By Maria Hadjidemetriou
It is challenging enough to go through this pandemic when you are healthy, to keep positive throughout the day while working from home, homeschooling your children, hearing the devastating new death toll and finding that balance. Now imagine going through this pandemic and you are an individual that depends on blood transfusions every 14 days to live. That is my life. Hi, my name is Maria Hadjidemetriou; I am a DowntownMom™ raising my 11-year old daughter and born with a rare blood disease called Thalassemia also known as Cooley’s Anemia. Thalassemia is a genetic disorder passed down through families in which the body makes an abnormal form or inadequate amount of hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen. The disease results in large numbers of red blood cells being destroyed, which leads to anemia and because of this I need two pints of blood every 14 days. I depend on beautiful healthy human beings making their way out of their day to donate blood. They are my heroes. In recent weeks we have heard the devastating numbers on the loss of blood donations in New York and throughout America due to school closures, businesses and religious institutions. The New York Blood Center has cancelled close to 400 blood drives totaling a loss of over 17,000 donations. Our US Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams has many times urged healthy Americans to donate blood during this crisis and refill our blood banks.
In the 44 years of receiving my blood transfusions since I was diagnosed with Thalassemia at 2½ years of age, I never thought my life would be in this precarious state not only because I am at a higher risk of contracting the virus because my immune system is so suppressed, but because I am at risk of not receiving my life saving blood. The New York Blood Center has extended hours for donors to ensure we do not fall into a crisis where our blood banks are completely depleted. Please do not be afraid to donate blood. Just one donation can save up to three lives. To donate blood it is by appointment only. Please call 1-800-933-9566. Please make your way to your local blood center and spread the awareness by snapping a photo and using the hashtag #RefillOurBloodBanks for social media.
To depend on blood for me means to depend on beautiful human beings donating their blood. When you give I live. There is no substitute for blood.
Maria is a NYC mom living with her 11-year-old daughter in Downtown Manhattan. She is an Executive Board Member and Officer for the Cooley’s Anemia Foundation and an Expert Patient Advisor for the Thalassemia International Federation. Her articles have been published in the peer-to-peer medical journal American Journal of Hematology. She is also a writer and producer for her short documentary “Thalassemia: Life Without Boundaries.” You can reach out to Maria at firstname.lastname@example.org
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