Local blood donors make it possible for Alexandra to get out of bed.
When a sickle cell pain crisis strikes the 33-year-old mom, she doesn’t have many choices. Her 8-year-old son does what he can, helping with her medication and keeping her company, but she often requires a trip to the hospital and a blood transfusion.
“When I was younger, I feared blood transfusions,” Alexandra said. “The idea of someone else’s blood coming into my body was very tough to take in at that age. But now, when I see what it does for me in the weeks after, it gives me time to enjoy life. I have at least a good two to three weeks of no pain when I receive blood.”
Alexandra was diagnosed with sickle cell disease when she was 6 months old. She remembers spending a lot of time in sickle cell clinics in Manhattan, where she was born. There were times she would spend three, even four months straight in the hospital. The nurses and staff always knew her name.
She likes to say she’s been around for the evolution of the needle, having received well over 20 transfusions throughout her lifetime. She remembers the days when transfusion needles were large and stiff, requiring her arm to be strapped to a piece of cardboard to keep it still. Now, the needles are much smaller and more flexible.
These days, less of her time is spent going in and out of the hospital. Especially since she moved to the Charlotte area two years ago. She said her health and her care have improved.
I tell my friends when they donate blood, ‘Thank you for potentially saving my life'.”
“I can honestly say my care has gotten better than it’s ever been in my entire life,” she said. “I now have a sickle cell specialist at Levine Cancer Institute, I have a routine. And if I need blood, it’s available.”
Blood transfusions provide Alexandra with relief from the crippling pain of sickle cell, but they also offer her an alternative to clinical trials or potentially dangerous surgeries.
Her uncle Garry says receiving a transfusion turns Alexandra into Superwoman. She’s able to leave the house, enjoy her life and get things done.
“It just really helps me live life, even if it’s for the moment,” she said. “I tell my friends when they donate blood, ‘Thank you for potentially saving my life'.”