A world of difference

Blood donation is a selfless act, and for little Grayson of Waiuku, it was over 100 whole blood donations that assisted him in his battle with a serious blood disorder.

What started as a normal play date, soon turned into alarming news for the Swann family. Three-year-old Grayson had come back from a bike ride with his sisters and was covered in bruising but that was thought to be pretty normal for a boisterous toddler. It wasn’t until the next day when a bruised scab bled for 30 minutes that alarmed mum Angela to speak to a doctor. She was advised to rush to hospital due to the severity of her sons’ condition and it was that same night, 2nd of August 2017, that Grayson was diagnosed with leukaemia.

“It all happened so fast”, says Angela. “He was a healthy, happy little boy and suddenly here we were at the hospital receiving terrible news about his health”.

The worst part, she recalls, was having to call her husband who was driving home from Napier. She had to tell him over the phone that their precious little boy had blood cancer.

Grayson was put on treatment straight away and from his first night in hospital began to receive blood transfusions due to his low levels of red blood cells and platelets. Leukaemia is the most common type of cancer among children and teens. It’s a cancer that usually begins in the bone marrow and results in high numbers of abnormal white blood cells that interfere with normal blood cell production – hence the need for blood transfusions in such cases. Twenty six percent of New Zealand Blood Services’ (NZBS) blood donations go towards cancer patients, three percent of which are for children.

Grayson was rather frail at this point, and while he wasn’t in pain, he was incredibly lethargic. His family recalls his boosts of energy upon receiving blood transfusions.

“It felt as if he was getting a massive top up”, says Angela.

“His colour would come back almost instantly after receiving the blood transfusions. Not only did it improve his health, it reassured us as his family, that we were witnessing his progress then and there. It made a world of a difference for us all”.

Grayson was admitted to hospital for ten days upon his diagnosis. He was able to go back to the comfort of his own home, only returning to hospital for his weekly sessions of chemotherapy and additional blood transfusions.

A battle of this kind would be tough on anyone, let alone a three-year-old, but little Grayson fought back and eventually beat the cancer.

But despite everyone’s best efforts, in March of 2018 an infection led to his hospitalisation over three weeks where sadly his health deteriorated rapidly. Grayson passed away 2nd of April 2018.

“We miss him every day, but we know he fought as much as he could”, says Angela.

“For families like ours, that have been through something like this, we know the importance of a blood donation. That every drop of blood that your child or loved one gets, gives them that much more of a chance at survival. It’s priceless”.

Grayson received a huge amount of blood products during his treatment that were only available to him thanks to the generosity of strangers. Having been alongside their son throughout his courageous battle with cancer, Angela and her husband would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to donors everywhere for giving their son a fighting chance. They’ve since committed to donating blood and making a world of a difference for someone else.

To find out more about how you can become a blood donor, click here or call 0800 GIVE BLOOD.

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