Wednesday, January 28, 2015

A Mother's Passion and Mission for Blood Donations

by Mary McMinn, volunteer contributor

There’s still time to donate blood to the American Red Cross North Texas Region during January’s Blood Donor Month. You never know whose life you will help or save.

That’s the message Red Cross employee, Diane LaFrancis wants others to hear, based on her own personal experience.

“In 2002, two weeks before my daughter, Sophia, turned two years old, she was diagnosed with Stage 4 Cancer,” said LaFrancis, “as a result of me noticing unusual bruises on her body.”

LaFrancis, living in Boston and a single mother of two children under the age of four suddenly had to face − “not if, but when Sophia would die,” − she had to find immediate help to care for her daughter.

“One of the first things the doctors at Floating Hospital for Children in Boston told me was to tell people to donate blood and platelets,” she said. “And, that became my mission.”

She immediately called the local American Red Cross and they connected her with the platelet recruitment representative. LaFrancis gave her a hand-made poster with the story and picture of her daughter, which she updated regularly.

The posters generated almost 100 blood and platelet transfusions throughout the rest of Sophia’s life.

After Sophia went into remission, she and her mother would often go to Red Cross donor dinners to speak.

“They loved to see us − my daughter especially.”

LaFrancis discovered how vital the need is for blood and platelet donors. Sophia depended on frequent blood and platelet donations, but oftentimes LeFrancis was told there was not enough donated in the hospital supplies.

“So, day after day, we would go in to check her platelet levels to see if she was at the most critical stage required to receive a transfusion.”

Platelets are small blood components that help the clotting process by sticking to the lining of blood vessels. In Sophia’s case, they helped her form the clots that would prevent bruises, which could lead to her “bleeding out.”

The posters at the Red Cross helped generate more blood donors, so Sophia would usually get transfusions every two weeks, which made her more comfortable as the disease progressed.

After Sophia died in December 2004, Le Francis started volunteering at American Red Cross blood drives, providing juice and cookies to donors and monitoring them after blood donations.

This gave her an opportunity to talk about Sophia and how much the donations helped her quality of life while she was living. And, she also told stories about patients with current needs being helped through donations.

Two years after Sophia’s death – and on Sophia’s birthday – LeFrancis was hired to work in platelet recruitment at The American Red Cross.

Today, she serves as a donor recruitment representative in the American Red Cross’ Mid-America Division.

“And, I still feel the value the Red Cross provides others in need,” she said. “My husband is on active duty in the military and has O- blood type.”

But, she said, talking about Sophia and how the Red Cross helped through her short life helps her “mind, body and soul.

“My story is someone else’s story and it’s not every day you get an opportunity to save a life. When you donate blood, you have that opportunity.

“People need blood every day, not just during disasters. Individual catastrophes, like Sophia’s happen every day.”

To learn more information on blood donation, please visit

1 comment:

  1. Very intersting post…. I enjoyed reading your informative article and considering the points. TOSHIBA PLT-805AT


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