Blood drive, April 1 at Patton, is personal for Unionville families

Blood transfusions saved both of their children, so duo organize drive to help others

By Mike McGann, Editor,

Sean Cadden and his cousin Chloe Taylor are healthy, happy kids, but only because blood transfusions saved both of their lives.

PENNSBURY — Most people are thankful for the help of others. But for a pair of Unionville-area sisters, just saying “thank you” wasn’t ever going to be enough after both of their children were kept alive by the kindness of strangers.

After both of their children were saved by blood transfusions — due to different medical issues — Tracy Taylor and her sister Kathleen Cadden decided to do something more than just count their blessings and have organized a community blood drive, April 1, at Patton Middle School. With the American Red Cross battling low blood donation rates, the two sisters say they want to make sure when someone else needs the blood, it will be there.

“We’re just trying to do something to help,” Taylor said. “it’s important to do something to make sure blood is there when it’s needed,” Cadden said, echoing her sister’s statement.

Cadden’s son Sean, a seventh grade student at Patton is living proof of the importance of making sure there are ample blood supplies. He was born with a very rare disorder — Diamond Blackfan Anemia, something thought to effect only about 800 people worldwide. Shortly after his birth, doctors determined his bone marrow wasn’t making red blood cells and a series of transfusions saved his life. With treatment, the disease went into remission and Sean was able to be a fairly normal kid. Until he reached fifth grade at Hillendale Elementary. The normally energetic kid was suddenly tired all of the time. After an initial diagnosis of Lyme Disease, it was determined that the DBA was back, and again transfusions and further treatment were the only thing that saved his life.

Today, Sean is a normal middle school student, more interested in talking about the latest XBox game than being sick. But he also knows the importance of the blood supply. At Patton, he’s been a very visible symbol of the importance of having enough blood available for everyone who needs it.

“I got a lot of the kids at Patton talking about it,” he said. “We’ve managed to get posters up in the school, so I hope people know it’s important.”

Having watched everything her sister and nephew went through, Taylor suddenly found herself in a similar crisis. Pregnant, she discovered her unborn child was very sick, having contracted the virus Parvo. The only hope for tiny Chloe would blood transfusions into Taylor’s umbilical cord. Thanks to those transfusions, Chloe is now a bubbly toddler.

And while people have generally been supportive, it can be a tough sell to some folks, especially those who tend to be needle-phobic.

“Some people would rather give money, to be honest,” Taylor said. But no amount of money can buy blood, unfortunately. Cadden notes that the process is fairly quick, about 15 minutes, usually followed by a light snack. A few minutes time can mean years or decades of healthy life for others.

Both sisters also want folks to know that the rules have been relaxed a bit on donation, so if you’ve been barred from donating blood in the past, you might now be eligible. In fact, many medications that once were barred are no longer, vastly widening the pool of potential donors. Check here to see if you’re eligible to donate.

Of course, if you want to make the process as smooth as possible, you should click here to make an appointment and enter sponsor code 15101. Walk-ins are discouraged, as it makes it difficult for the Red Cross to get proper staffing on site if they don’t how many folks are coming, so you asked to schedule an appointment. The drive will be held between 1 and 7 p.m.

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