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Preteen Needs Blood Transfusions to Stay Healthy

A social media ‘expert’ and animal lover, Dani Melton is your typical 11-year-old. When she isn’t walking her dogs, Finn and Diego, or playing volleyball, she’s usually on Snapchat, a photo app with a time limit assigned to each image. Her mother, Lori, laughed as she talked about Dani’s ability to manipulate photos in it, including adding her family’s faces to statues and signs.

“She’s funny,” she said, “She makes everyone laugh.”

However, behind all of Dani’s selfies and funny posts is an underlying issue – one she’s dealt with since infancy. Dani has Beta Thalassemia Major, a disease that causes her body to produce defective DNA. There is currently no cure. Her hemoglobin breaks down prematurely, forcing the preteen to undergo a regularly-scheduled procedure to help her: blood transfusions.

“It saves her life. Without the transfusions, she wouldn’t be healthy,” said Lori.

Every three weeks, Dani and Lori head to Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital for the procedure. Dani gets blood drawn from a port in her chest, which is then sent to the lab to find matching blood. When a match is found, Dani gets the blood through her port. The entire process takes about 5 to 6 hours, but it’s time well-spent for the mother-daughter duo.

“Her limbs will get achy in the days leading up [to her blood transfusion],” said Lori.

“I get really tired,” Dani agreed.

The blood Dani needs comes from Michigan Blood donors, who give through drives and at donor centers across Michigan. And Dani is only one example of people who need blood on a consistent basis.

“I feel like [donating blood] is one of those things you do, and you don’t realize the benefits [it provides for other people],” said Lori.

Those benefits include letting kids like Dani continue doing what they love, whether it be playing volleyball…or changing another photo on Snapchat.

“When I look at Dani, and I know that [blood] saves her life, I would encourage anyone to donate blood,” said Lori, “Just give it a try.”