Family knows blood is precious; Immune disorder killed a daughter, but son is alive because of transfusions, bone marrow transplant

Family knows blood is precious; Immune disorder killed a daughter, but son is alive because of transfusions, bone marrow transplant

KARENA WALTER / Standard Staff
Local News – Monday, April 30, 2007 @ 12:00

The photograph album for baby Ethan Peters is filled with tubes and nurses and hospital rooms.

Not a typical newborn’s book, but Lori Peters smiles as she looks through it anyway.

Those photos from Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children seem to be more about Ethan receiving life than being sick.

Now two years old, he was with his family celebrating his birthday at the local Canadian Blood Services clinic Saturday.

By the time he was six months old, Ethan had a bone marrow transplant, seven platelet transfusions and three blood transfusions.

“He couldn’t have lived without it, just like Brooklyn,” Peters said.

Born with severe combined immunodeficiency, Ethan didn’t have T-cells necessary for an immune system. The sister he never knew, Brooklyn, was born with the same rare genetic condition. Brooklyn died in 2002 at age five months, before her condition was diagnosed.

Ethan’s two other sisters Madison, 8, and Sheridan, 3, do not have the condition.

The Peters family, living in Virgil, were hosting their second annual blood donor clinic to honour Brooklyn and Ethan and raise awareness about the importance of donations.

“It’s something you never think about,” Peters said. After spending Ethan’s first 235 days in the hospital, she and husband Jason learned a lot about blood services and both donate now.

Jason Peters said one donation of blood helps three people. “If we can get 30 people here today, 90 will benefit.”

He said he hopes that once more people come out to give blood, they’ll think about taking the extra step of going on the bone marrow registry.

It took four months to find bone marrow for Ethan because no one in his family was a match. The worldwide registry found a 25-year-old woman in Germany, whom the Peters hope to meet some day.

Other than the trips to the Toronto hospital every couple of months, Ethan is living a pretty normal life, his dad said. “He’s the same little troublemaker his sisters were at his age.”

Clinic recruitment co-ordinator Tammy Maroudas said more than 50 per cent of Canadians will require blood for themselves or a family member over their lives. Clinics like the one the Peters were hosting help spread the word.

“I know there are a lot of us who’ve seen the commercials,” she said. “There’s a lot of good intentions, but we want to see those good intentions turn to action.”

That’s just what Catherine Stirling of St. Catharines did after hearing about the honour clinic on the radio and being touched by the family’s story. She said she hadn’t given blood for a while and thought it was a good time to start again. With two young daughters of her own, Saturday’s clinic hit home.

“They’re my life,” she said. “And if anything happened to them, I would want someone to help.” kwalter@stcatharinesstandard.ca

Dropping in to help

Hundreds of Canadians need bone marrow transplants each year.

75 per cent of people requiring bone marrow transplants need to find a donor match outside their family.

You must be at least 17 years old to give blood or be on the bone marrow registry.

It takes about an hour to donate blood and all types are needed.

The clinic at 395 Ontario St. (Henley Square) is open five days a week: Monday 3:30 to 8 p.m.; Tuesday and Wednesday 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2:30 to 8 p.m., Thursday 8 a.m. to noon and Saturday 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

More information at www.blood.ca or call 1-888-2-DONATE.

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