Young cancer patient relies on MEDIC blood donations

Local News

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — “It’s arguably up there with the worst nights of my life.”

Those are the words from a West Knoxville mother of two, Sarah Grappin, after learning her then 7-year-old son Alex had been diagnosed with T-cell acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.

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“I mean, you could have knocked me over with a feather,” she said. “I could not believe it.”

For Sarah and her husband Tony, the next year-and-a-half would mean long stays at the hospital, multiple chemotherapy treatments and numerous blood transfusions for their oldest son.

“He went through 8 or 9 months of the frontline chemo treatment,” says Alex’s father Tony. “If you’d asked me what people used blood products for before our cancer journey, I would have thought maybe like a trauma or for someone who has lost a lot of blood,” says Sarah. “I wouldn’t have thought of people, you know, people dealing with cancer or other similar diseases needing blood products on a regular basis.”

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Thankfully for the Grappin’s, that is where MEDIC came to the rescue.

“We’d be absolutely lost without them because the chemotherapy just depletes your platelets, your hemoglobin. Things like that,” adds Sarah.

“We see a lot of children with cancer,” says MEDIC’s Kristy Altman. “We see a lot of people who need transfusions regularly for various issues.”

Those transfusions are made possible by MEDIC and their donors who provide blood products to 25 hospitals in Knoxville and the surrounding area.

“The life would come back into him. Minute by minute, as that blood product was going into him,” Sarah recalls as she looks back at the journey her now-9-year-old son has already had to endure.

One benefit for the Grappins is that for years now Tony, Alex’s father, has been a long-time donor to MEDIC.

The result, MEDIC now covers the cost for the blood needed for Alex’s transfusions.

“It doesn’t matter if he needs one unit or 20 units in a year.. if you, before you need it, donate, then you are covered for that calendar year,” says Tony. “It’s wonderful because every time Alex has needed blood, instead of it coming out of our pocket or having to go through insurance, MEDIC just cuts a check to Children’s and it covers the cost of the blood.”

A cost the Grappin’s will not have to worry about as Alex’s fight to get better continues to move forward.

“I expect he’ll get more transfusions before the end of treatment,” says Sarah. ” His last day, assuming he doesn’t relapse, the last day of his treatment will be in Dec. 2021. So, he still has a way to go.”

You can follow Alex’s story on Facebook at facebook.com/alexbraveandtall.

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