VACAVILLE — The need for blood donations was stressed at Tuesday’s Soroptimist International of Vacaville’s meeting.
Three mothers, all employees of NorthBay Healthcare, shared stories of their young children diagnosed with Kawasaki’s Disease. The disease is characterized by inflammation of the blood vessels throughout the body. It’s the leading cause of acquired heart disease in children.
All the children received intravenous immunoglobulin, an antibody. For each child, one dose represented 1,000 blood donations. Two the children got two doses, the other a single dose.
The women choked back tears as they spoke of their daughter and sons with high fevers, lethargy, no appetite and stomach pains.
Diagnosis was hard to come by. Visits to the emergency room and/or clinics produced ideas such as the common cold, strep throat and the flu.
Dana Aleman of Fairfield watched her son Levi’s fever spike to 104 and 105 degrees. His blood pressure dropped to dangerous lows. He was only 3.
“The doctors told us he was going into heart failure,” she said. At one point, they wheeled a crash cart into his hospital room.
A phlebotomy tech at NorthBay Medical Center, Aleman said she was not aware of the intravenous immunoglobulin until it was suggested for use in her son. He had two doses, which represents 2,000 donations.
“I wish I could thank each and every one of them,” she said. “Each day is a gift.”
Leticia DeGracia, a phlebotomy tech at VacaValley Hospital, went through very similar symptoms with her young daughter, Jacqueline, who is closing in on her second birthday.
Aleman’s son dealt with Kawasaki’s in January 2012. DeGracia, a Sacramento resident, went through it over the summer.
“She had a rash on her cheeks, chin and chest,” DeGracia said. “Her lips were swollen.”
She remembered Aleman’s story and insisted the doctors continue to evaluate her daughter. Jacqueline received two doses of intravenous immunoglobulin.
There was a vast difference in the photos she shared of her daughter over the summer and one taken recently.
Vacaville’s Beth Gladney, an intensive care unit nurse at NorthBay Medical Center, told of her 7-year-old son’s fight with Kawasaki in the fall of 2012, when he was 7. Eric Gladney’s blood pressure was 70/40 at one point.
“As a nurse, I couldn’t believe I had missed this,” she said.
One of his earliest symptoms was a stomach ache.
“Now when he gets one, I worry,” Gladney said.
All three children have recovered. Levi Aleman had to relearn to use the bathroom. He stopped walking and talking. Some behavior issues also followed but have vastly improved.
“It’s been a really long road for him,” Aleman said. “It happened at such a fragile age.”
NorthBay Healtcare is sponsoring a Community Blood Drive from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday at the Solano Town Center parking lot, across from NorthBay Medical Center.
Donors can make an appointment online at www.bloodsource.org/drives and use the location code H101. More information is available by calling 646-5197 or 646-5484.
Reach Amy Maginnis-Honey at 427-6957 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/amaginnisdr.