Blood donors sought for girl

Posted Jan. 13, 2009, at 8:06 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — The Maine Blood Center will sponsor Maggie’s Week, a series of blood drives in honor of a 4½-month-old girl living with Diamond-Blackfan anemia.

The drives will run Monday through Saturday at 992 Union St.

Maggie Rudnicki was diagnosed with Diamond-Blackfan anemia when she was 4 weeks old. Her mother, Lauren, had taken her to the doctor’s office with a nasty cold.

“We brought Maggie to her pediatrician and discovered that she had gained very little weight since her last visit and had developed a heart murmur,” Lauren said. “When the doctor drew her blood, her hemoglobin was at 3, which is as bad as it gets, and her immature red blood cell count was far below average. We learned that she had Diamond-Blackfan after a bone marrow biopsy.”

Diamond-Blackfan anemia is characterized by a low red blood cell count in bone marrow. The disorder develops during the neonatal period, and most people affected by it are diagnosed by age 2.

DBA affects 700 to 800 people in North America. It may be treated with transfusions, steroids or bone marrow transplants. Maggie relies on blood transfusions every two to three weeks.

Heather Babcock, donor recruiter for the Maine Blood Center, hopes that Maggie’s Week will inspire the public to donate and support others with similar conditions.

“I met Maggie’s grandmother and mother during a blood drive in Levant,” Babcock said. “I usually try to talk to donors about what inspired them to come in, and that’s when they told me about Maggie and what they had been going through. We at the center wanted to do whatever we could to help, and Maggie’s family really wanted to give back. So we said, ‘Let’s get together and make this about awareness.’”

“Maggie would not be here if not for blood donors,” Rudnicki said. “You don’t fully realize until something like this happens to you that donating blood is really going to help somebody. We thought that if people could see someone in the community who needed their help it might touch their hearts a little bit.”

Maggie and Lauren Rudnicki will be at the center for most of the day Monday. A photo display will be set up for donors who would like to contribute good luck wishes and messages for Maggie and her family.

The Maine Blood Center will be open from noon to 7 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday and Saturday during Maggie’s Week. To schedule an appointment, call 262-8797. All blood donors must be 17, weigh at least 110 pounds, be in generally good health and present a photo ID.

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