Milkshakes for Marleigh
It’s no secret that every donation can help save the life of a patient in Australia, but did you know some patients need lots of donations?
Some people, like 5-year-old Marleigh, can depend on blood products for a really long time.
At the age of 3, Marleigh was diagnosed with autoimmune encepalitis and epilepsy, which is a refractory seizure disorder. That means that her immune system is wrongly identifying her healthy brain cells as foreign and attacking them.
Marleigh’s seizures can occur from every few weeks to every few hours. They can last anywhere from a few seconds to her current record seizure which lasted 39 hours.
These prolonged seizures are referred to as status epliecticus seizures and they are life-threatening. When Marleigh survives one of these episodes, it’s often at a Paediatric Intensive Care Unit. She is placed into an induced coma, intubated and ventilated.
Due to the autoimmune nature of her condition, Marleigh’s seizures do not respond to anticonvulsant medications in the same way that someone with epilepsy may. But Marleigh’s medical team have found something that does help to control her condition: regular Intravenous Immunoglubulin infusions (IVIg).
The power of plasma
IVIg is a solution of human plasma proteins with a broad spectrum of antibody activity. IVIg is prepared from large pools of human plasma collected from thousands of donors.
“I love so much that in a world of such incredible health care and scientific advances, that for our daughter to survive this chronic illness she needs the kindness and love of the best type of humans – plasma donors,” said Marleigh’s mum Kate.
“Those who donate as frequently as fortnightly with no clue that their blood product keeps our daughter alive. It keeps a little sister with her big brothers. It keeps her stable enough to go to ballet lessons once a week. It has given her the opportunity to blow out candles on two more birthday cakes that she would never have seen without plasma donors.”
Milkshakes for Marleigh
Marleigh has her own Lifeblood Team called “Milkshakes for Marleigh”. Kate created this team in the 100 day lead up to the first anniversary of her first airlift to a Paediatric Intensive Care Unit in critical condition.
“Our doctors had prepared us for the reality that she may die. What saved her life was IVIg, generously donate by Australian plasma donors. We aimed to recruit 100 new plasma donors in 100 days in what became a truly national campaign with donors for all blood products, across every single state and territory in Australia.”