Smiling playfully for the camera, Nyla VanderLaan is the picture of health. But six years ago, the day after her birth, Nyla was dangerously close to death. Donated blood saved her life.
Born in Grand Rapids on November 18, 2004 Nyla at first seemed perfectly healthy, but by early morning the next day her temperature was extremely low and she was refusing to eat. Then she began vomiting blood. She was rushed from Metro Health Hospital to Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital.
“Basically, I was in a state of shock,” says Leda Vander Laan, Nyla’s mother. “It happened so fast. She threw up blood, they rushed in, and then she was on her way to DeVos.”
Bleeding overnight from a massive ulcer, tiny Nyla had lost nearly 20 percent of her blood into her stomach. She received two blood transfusions, as well as fresh frozen plasma. Today, thanks to the generosity of blood donors, Nyla is a happy, healthy 6-year-old.
“If I could give blood I would do it every single month,” says Leda, who often can’t donate due to the minimum weight requirement. “My goal was to give back what Nyla took. So far, I’ve been able to donate once.”
“Anybody that I can tell our story to get them donate is important,” says Leda. “I think people look at giving blood [and think it] goes for only car accidents and surgery, and don’t always think about a six-pound baby.”