Blood shortage leaves California teen fighting for her life

Morning In America

CALIFORNIA (NewsNation Now) — Amid a historic shortfall in blood donations, one 14-year-old California girl living day-to-day is fighting for her life.

Lisa Winberg’s daughter Sadie was admitted to the hospital with COVID-19. Then, they found out she had myeloid leukemia, a type of cancer where the bone marrow makes a large number of abnormal blood cells, as well as a hematoma on her brain. Medical professionals are also exploring the possibility that Sadie could have a COVID-19 complication called MIS-C, where different body parts can become inflamed.

It would be a lot to deal with in more normal circumstances — but a dire shortage of blood has made Sadie’s plight much harder.

The American Red Cross says this is the worst blood shortage it’s seen in a decade. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Red Cross has experienced a 10% decline in the number of people donating blood, the organization said on its website. Ongoing blood drive cancellations and staffing limitations in the medical field have not helped matters.

Even though her hospital has “so many amazing” doctors and nurses taking “amazing” care of her, Winberg said there have been instances where Sadie has been denied the blood she so badly needs because there’s so little of it available.

“It’s not the hospital’s fault,” Winberg told NewsNation’s Adrienne Bankert on “Morning in America.” “It’s just that the blood banks are literally dry.”

That wasn’t acceptable to Winberg, so she took matters into her own hands. Winberg galvanized a whole community— friends, family, neighbors and even strangers — and asked them for direct donations of O-negative blood — Sadie’s blood type — and for them to give blood in her name.

“We tried to figure out what we can do to drum up those donations for her, because she’s in a critical moment when she needs blood,” Winberg said. “We can’t wait for more to come in.”

About four days ago, the red blood cell bags started coming into Sadie’s room, with bright fluorescent yellow tags on them letting Sadie and her family know they were from direct donors.

If not for those donations, Sadie would have been once again unable to get blood, Winberg said. But these bags allowed her to get the transfusions.

To give blood, people have to be 15 or older.

A friend of Sadie’s, Miriam Delgado, who’s currently 14, is only few days away from her 15th birthday, so despite a fear of needles, she’s going to give blood for the first time to help her friend this weekend.

“It’s really great to see everyone donating and putting themselves out there for Sadie,” Delgado said. “I knew that I should be donating blood because I knew I could possibly save a life, not only for Sadie but many other people too.

In February, Lisa Winberg is planning blood drives at the local high school.

For these, “I’m really asking anybody in the community,” she said. “We don’t care if you have O-negative blood. We know that this is a crisis for everybody, not just our daughter.”

She urges those not in the area to contact their local LifeStream blood bank.

“They would love to have you come in and donate,” she said.

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