‘He wouldn’t have survived’: Local mom credits blood donors for saving young son’s life

SPOKANE, Wash. – Fewer people are donating blood, and donation centers say they’re in urgent need. Blood banks say donating can help save the lives of people who have cancer or even have emergency surgeries.

That’s what happened with three-year-old Leo.

His mom, Brooklyn Smith, said Leo wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for blood donors.

“He wouldn’t have survived,” Smith said.

When Leo was a month old, Smith said he had a complication from a medical procedure that’s done quite often.

He lost a lot of blood and doctors said his levels couldn’t return to normal on their own.

“That’s when they decided he needed that blood in order to survive,” Smith said. “It was a common procedure and I was just so scared because I felt so helpless.”

Because of people who took the time to donate blood at places like Vitalant, Leo lived.

However, blood banks across the nation and here in the Inland Northwest can’t seem to find more people to help.

“It’s super hard. Getting first-time donors is very difficult,” said Erin Baker, the donor recruitment manager for Vitalant.

Baker said regular donors are getting old and taking medications that won’t allow them to donate, so they need more people to step up.

She says there’s a perfect storm happening right now for why they’re in need of many blood donors. The pandemic had a big impact, as fewer people decided to donate because of health concerns. Vitalant, like many other businesses, is going through staffing shortages. Because of staffing shortages and other issues, Vitalant can’t do as many blood drives.

Vitalant said 715 blood drives were canceled in 2021, a 30 to 35 percent decrease in drives held compared to years past.

Now, the organization is hoping more people will step up and donate so it can help people like Leo.

“Just how much it meant to me, it kind of motivated me to continuously donate blood as much as possible because to give that to somebody else is an irreplaceable gift,” Smith said.

To find out the qualifications and how to donate blood, click here.

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