New Jersey Save3Lives: All in a Day's Work

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Video Transcript

Mary Volpe’s Story

Mary Volpe’s Story

Katie was a spitfire.  She was full of spunk.  She was 100 pounds soaking wet, but she had the biggest mouth in the room.  But paired with the big mouth was the big heart.  She just…she loved life.  She loved people.  She loved her family.  She was my maid of honor.  I left for my honeymoon, and a week later I got a phone call that my sister had died of a rare blood disease called TTP.  That was the first time I heard of it, and unfortunately not the last.

I was in the seventh month of a dream pregnancy when I developed chest pains and had difficultly breathing.  And they ran blood work and weren’t sure what it was.  They thought it was indigestion.  I went back the next day, and they ran some additional blood work and had determined that my platelet count had dropped from a normal level around 200,000 down to 20,000, which is a very dramatic drop and a dangerously low level.  So they had determined that I had a platelet deficiency – whether or not it was TTP, at this point they weren’t sure.  What they did know was that they had to deliver the babies immediately.  It was devastating knowing how tragic and serious the illness is, or can be. We were frightened to say the least.

The most successful course of treatment for TTP is a treatment called plasmapheresis, which they began immediately.  Plasmapheresis requires approximately 10 units of fresh frozen plasma for each treatment, so – approximately 25 treatments that I had – I needed over 250 units of plasma.

Now I feel great.  It’s three years later, and I’m doing great.  But it was a debilitating disease, and it probably took about a year before I really had my energy levels back up and really started feeling like myself again.

Blood donation saves lives.  It’s that simple.  My treatment required a significant number of donors and donations.  I have a new lease on life.  I am enjoying the gift of motherhood so much, and I have vowed to myself not to take any moment for granted with my children and with my family.

I don’t know if there are words to express the gratitude that I have for these people and their donations.  I’m alive today because of it, and I appreciate it to no end.

[Song with children] …how much I love you.  Please don’t take my sunshine away.  Yea!

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