« Community-Driven Nurse Gives Back Through Blood Donation | Main | Celebrating Donors with ‘Love Michigan’ Event »

O-Negative Blood Necessary For Girl Battling Cancer

For many, St. Patrick’s Day is a day to celebrate Irish heritage. For Tegan Rose, March 17th, 2017 was the start of her cancer treatment.

She turned 11 years old two days later.

“Her lucky 4-leaf clover sticker didn’t turn out to be so lucky,” said Angela Rose, Tegan’s mom, before correcting herself, “Actually, if you look at it, it turned out to be really lucky – we caught the cancer early.”

Tegan is a sassy kid with an active lifestyle – ribbons and medals show off her swimming, cheerleading, and softball accolades across two walls in her room. The other noticeable additions: pictures and models of classic VW buses. They’re more than a passing fancy for the 11-year-old, whose house is filled with nods to it – bird houses shaped like the 60s vehicle adorn the fireplace, and Tegan built one for herself using her other passion: Legos.

“When my brother was helping me make my VW bus, he put the wheels on too soon. And it collapsed when I tried to put the other parts on,” she said, making a face, “So I took the wheels off and followed the directions.”

Following directions has become mandatory in the Rose home since Tegan’s leukemia diagnosis. Although she’s now in remission, she has to undergo chemotherapy over the next year or two. And with that comes a need for blood – a sometimes difficult task, because of her blood type: O-Negative. People with that blood type can only receive O-Negative blood, and because only 9-percent of Michigan’s population has that blood type, it’s been an issue for the preteen.

“We were at the hospital and Tegan needed blood, but we had to wait for someone to drive it over from Detroit,” said Angela, “That’s when we wanted to have a blood drive to raise awareness.”

The Spring Lake community came together to support the Rose family, dubbing their group ‘Team Tegan’. More than 90 people signed up to donate blood, making up nearly a quarter of the donations Michigan Blood needs daily to supply Michigan Hospitals.

Tegan said that when she receives blood, which happens semi-regularly, it gives her ‘more energy’. That energy will be necessary this summer as she tries to continue having an active lifestyle.

“We’re not putting our life on hold because of a silly thing called ‘leukemia’,” said Angela.

Unfortunately, summer is a time when blood donations are at their lowest – including O-Negative blood donations. That’s why Michigan Blood is working to get enough donations to help people just like Tegan.

Anyone with O-Negative blood who donates twice between July 10th and October 31st will be entered for a chance to win a YETI cooler filled with Michigan-made merchandise.

What’s more, because O-Negative is the universal donor, their blood can go to help save people across Michigan…including Tegan.