KNOXVILLE, Tennessee (WVLT) – Every blood donor has their own reasons for donating. Some people just do it to help hospitals. But others donate in honor of a child’s memory.
Alana Phillips is a regular at the MEDIC Regional Blood Center.
“Maybe 30, 40, probably more,” Phillips said, talking about how often she’s donated blood or platelets.
Phillips regularly donated blood, but that changed when her daughter Tillery was diagnosed with cancer – a brain tumor – at age 15.
“She has had 18 surgeries. She was doing two years of iv chemo when she was first diagnosed,” Phillips said. “And when she relapsed in 2020, we started oral chemo.”
Those experiences taught Phillips a lot about cancer and how valuable blood and platelet donations were in keeping her daughter alive.
“All the blood vessels in her body run through her brain tumor,” Phillips explained. “And so all of her surgeries are very, very bloody.”
Phillips calls herself a cancer mom, and she’s not the only cancer mom to donate Friday.
Denise Rowe donated platelets with her son Ethan in mind. Ethan died of cancer in 2015 at the age of 12. It was Ethan’s battle with cancer that opened Rowe’s eyes to how many donations are needed.
“Ethan needed platelets and we had to wait more than six hours to receive platelets from another county,” Rowe said. “Fortunately, he had six hours to wait. Some kids don’t.”
Danna Johnson also donated platelets. Her 15-year-old son Corey was diagnosed with cancer three years ago, inspiring her to donate five times a year ever since. She said the three women have become close and formed a support group for each other.
“Unfortunately, cancer has brought us together, but this is what keeps people going,” Johnson says.
Cancer can feel like a never-ending battle. But it’s a struggle these women are fighting for. To help their loved ones, and other children fighting the battle.
“We’re willing to do whatever it takes to advance this goal to make it better for the next generation of kids,” Phillips said.
The women said that despite how much they have donated, they will never be able to match the amount of donations their children have received and they encourage people to give it a try.
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