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'It's going directly to a child': Blood and plasma donations needed for young boy's livelihood

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With National Blood Donor week coming up, parents of children who receive blood transfusions and products are thanking donors for their contributions.

Among the children is Jakob Guziak.

Soon to be five years old, Gusiak is a boy who suffers from a severe immune condition known as adenosine deaminase deficiency. This condition is an inherited disorder where the immune system is damaged and it causes a person to have a complete lack of white blood cells that help the body fight infection.

His mother, Andrea Fernandez, describes him as a bubble boy.

Fernandez, told CTV News Edmonton that he has received blood and plasma products all of his life and is currently undergoing a stem cell transplant.

"Once a month he receives plasma infusions from the Stollery and that is part of his standard care for treatment," said Fernandez. "He will need a stem cell transplant – he already did the process of collection of cells, and in July he will be receiving his stem cell transplant."

Despite the strides Gusiak has made with his condition, Fernandez added that he will still be dependent on plasma infusions for nearly a year. Without the infusions, any common cold or infection can be deadly for the youngster.

Last year, Gusiak made a wish for his fourth birthday to recruit 50 people to donate blood and plasma at the Edmonton Canadian Blood Services (CBS) location.

Jasmine Vallarta with CBS stated that the demand is high in Edmonton and donations slow down during the summer months.

"We need 4,000 (donations) every single month here in Edmonton just to make sure that we're keeping up with the demand," said Vallarta. "We just want to have that gentle reminder to come out and donate – an hour of your time can help three donors."

Vallarta explained the importance of giving blood and its impact when you realize where a donation might end up.

"It's an emotional time for everyone. When you have that needle in your arm and you're giving that unit, it's going to go directly to a child, it's going to go to a cancer patient, it's going to go into someone who's needing surgery… I think it's really important to remember that."

For those interested in donating blood or plasma, head over to the Canadian Blood Services website to check your eligibility or to book an appointment.

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