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Immunodeficient birthday boy's wish comes true: 50 blood donors as need in Edmonton remains high


Jakob Guziak's wish for his fourth birthday this month: 50 people donating blood and plasma at the Canadian Blood Services location in Edmonton.

He originally wasn't expected to live past the age of two as he has an inherited disorder called adenosine deaminase deficiency, which basically means the active little boy has no immune system.

The Edmonton child relies on blood plasma donations to keep him alive. Once a month, Guziak gets an infusion that contains the antibodies he needs to help ward off infections.

On Tuesday, Guziak realized his goal of recruiting 50 donors and was on hand this week at Canadian Blood Services to not only brighten people's day by playing 'Doctor' while they donated but to also say 'Thank you.'

"It was important for us to let donors understand that their donation makes an impact in the lives of these children (like Jakob)," Andrea Fernandez, his mother, told CTV News Edmonton on Thursday. "Without their donation, my son would be missing a very important part of his artificial immune system. I think donors don't understand the impact of their donation until they see it, so we wanted to come and say 'Thank you' so they understand, here's where it goes."

Doctors diagnosed Guziak when he was eight days old. He relies on a regular regime of injections, which include his monthly dose of donated plasma. Fernandez said her son is on a waiting list for gene therapy, a stem-cell transplant procedure that isn't available in Canada. The family will likely travel to California in the U.S. or to London, England, for it if and when it becomes available.

In the meantime, Guziak must live a somewhat isolated life away from most people to help prevent him from catching a virus, an infection, a fungus or something else his body can't handle.

"I feel that sometimes we don't know about the importance of donations until we have a friend or a family member that is going through something like this," Fernandez said. "I feel it is important to encourage people to come and donate. Plasma and blood are two products you cannot make. It's impossible to make them, so you are expecting a lifesaving product from the kindness of someone."

Jasmine Vallarta, the territory manager for Canadian Blood Services' Edmonton operation, said her office is constantly seeking donors and is currently hoping for 1,000 donations by the September long weekend.

"The need for blood is constant," Vallarta said. "What's happening during the summer months is it's not at the top of mind (for people) to come and donate. We're asking everyone, if they have an hour of time, to come out and donate on our behalf and Jakob's behalf."

With files from CTV News Edmonton's Jessica Robb Top Stories

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