Red Cross plans blood drive in honor of 13-year-old cancer patient

Jan 26, 2024, 3:28 PM | Updated: Jan 27, 2024, 11:42 am

CLINTON — According to the American Red Cross, a blood and platelet shortage is happening nationwide that’s affecting Utah families like Shae Hansen’s.

“Cancer patients rely on these blood and platelet donations to help them keep fighting,” Hansen said.

Hansen knows this firsthand, as her 13-year-old son McKay is battling neuroblastoma, a rare form of cancer that relies on platelet and blood transfusions.

“So, he gets platelet transfusions every other day currently … In the last three years, he’s had 36 blood transfusions, and he’s getting his 115 platelet transfusion today,” Hansen said.

When McKay is not getting treatment, Shae Hansen said he loves to be outdoors and active with his family.

“Being able to have these transfusions helps him create that life,” she said.

Shae Hansen (right) with her son, McKay (left)

Shae Hansen with her son, McKay. (KSL TV)

However, Dr. Walter Kelley, medical director for the American Red Cross, said the number of people donating blood nationwide is decreasing.

“I think it’s so important for people to understand that their generosity when it comes to blood donation is really a direct impact on patients,” Kelley said.

Fortunately, he said there has not been anyone who has needed a transfusion who has not gotten one, but there have been significant delays. In fact, due to a shortage of platelets, McKay has faced a delay in his treatment twice.

“As a parent, to know that, you know, that could, I mean, essentially cost him his life of not being able to have that available to him,” Hansen said,

Kelley said there are various options for most people in what they can donate, whether that is blood, plasma, platelets, or a combination.

“Your body builds platelets really fast. So, there are people who donate platelets every month. You can actually even donate a little more frequently than that,” he said.

“To sacrifice something like that for yourself, knowing what an impact it’s making for somebody else, is huge,” Hansen added.

On Jan. 31 from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m., the Red Cross is holding a blood drive in McKay’s honor at the Clinton West Stake Cultural Hall. If you wish to sign up, visit the Red Cross Blood website and use the sponsor code “LightningMcKay.”

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Red Cross plans blood drive in honor of 13-year-old cancer patient