Maya Collins

Magnificent Maya

Like most parents, Bonnie Collins will do whatever it takes to ensure the wellbeing of her famil€y, especially that of her two daughters.

But when it comes to her daughter Maya, Bonnie needs a little extra help--and she is grateful to have the support of many blood and platelet donors, who have been essential to keeping Maya alive.

Bonnie Collins sitting with her 13-year-old daughter Maya, who is fighting cancer

Maya Collins has relied on blood and platelet donors for years, since she was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) in 2011 as an 8-year-old. "The cancer crowded out her normal cells," Bonnie recalled, "so she received blood as soon as she was diagnosed, and continued to get transfusions on a regular basis."

Additionally, Maya developed myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), which meant that her marrow had essentially gone into failure and stopped producing healthy cells. Regular transfusions were necessary then, as well, to serve "as a bridge until she received a transplant of a healthy marrow that was able to produce healthy cells," Bonnie explained.

AML has been a long road for Maya--she has been in remission but relapsed twice so far, and is currently in treatment at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Tennessee. "She received her third bone marrow transplant in September of 2016," Bonnie said. "Since then, she's had a few setbacks that have suppressed her new bone marrow from producing healthy cells."

Again, blood and platelet transfusions have come to the rescue, with Maya receiving platelets about twice a week and red blood cells every other week--and Bonnie could not be more grateful.

"Blood product transfusions keep her alive!" Bonnie said. "I always say that Maya is like a little vampire when she has low hemoglobin--she becomes very pale and weak, but as soon as she receives blood, her skin develops a healthy pink glow and she has so much more energy. And when her platelets are low, Maya 'oozes' blood. Any small scab on her body will start to bleed, and she is covered in bruises--it looks like she's been in a horrible accident. But as soon as she receives a platelet transfusion, her cuts heal quickly."

The need for blood products is real and constant, Bonnie said, and patients like Maya rely on the generosity and commitment of regular donors for their treatment.

"Potential shortages of platelets are a genuinely scary thought for our family, because Maya needs those precious platelets to survive," Bonnie says. "Platelet donors should PLEASE donate as often as possible, as they will most certainly be saving a life!"

And as for those donors who already make a point to give, Bonnie is “grateful beyond words.”

“We are so incredibly grateful to these people who we don’t even know who are stepping up to save our daughter’s life,” Bonnie says. “Without them, she wouldn’t be with us today. If I could say anything to those donors, I’m pretty sure I would hug and kiss them and then just cry like a baby!”

UPDATE (October 4, 2017):
Hoxworth Blood Center is saddened to report that Maya Collins passed away on October 3, 2017 after a long and well-fought battle.