Alle Foster: Overcoming Lupus One Transfusion At A Time

There’s no stopping Alle Foster. A Cincinnati native, she is an avid volleyball player and actively pursues her many passions in her job and in her free time—like supporting conservation efforts, teaching children the importance of protecting the natural world, and reducing the stray feline population in her role at the Ohio Alleycat Resource.  

But for Alle, chasing her passions hasn’t always been easy, after she was diagnosed with Lupus in May of 2019. She credits her medical team, and the support of local blood donors, for being alive today.

Alle Foster receiving a blood transfusion

“I was diagnosed with Lupus on May 10th, 2019. Which is ironic, since May 10th is World Lupus Day!” Alle recalls.  “I've been in and out of the hospital five times now in the last year. Each time, I've needed to receive at least one blood transfusion.”

Lupus is a chronic, long-term disease that can cause inflammation and pain throughout the body. It’s an autoimmune disease, which means that the body’s immune system — the system that usually fights infections — attacks normal, healthy tissue instead. Symptoms include inflammation, swelling, and damage to the joints, skin, kidneys, blood, heart, and lungs.

In Alle’s case, her lupus flares “usually starts with something like my heart rate or blood pressure skyrocketing, along with feeling extremely weak or unresponsive. My parents are amazing, because they’ll jump to my side in no time at all and make sure I get to where I need to be ASAP. We actually have an emergency method down for any time that I feel sick.”

On July 25th, 2020, Alle was admitted to the hospital for the longest and most serious stay of her diagnosis. In fact, she was still in the hospital receiving treatment during the writing of this story, in August of 2020.

“This hospital stay, my kidneys have been causing issues and I've been having dialysis three to four times a week,” Alle says. “I was also in a coma for about five or six days this time. I am still trying to get everything under control and it is tricky. I have no idea when I'll be able to get out of the hospital and go home.”

Alle is grateful to her team of medical professionals—“My nurses are a godsend!” –but she also knows that donated blood products have made an incredible impact on her life. 

Alle Foster smiling while holding a bag of blood in the hospital

“I believe I've received over fifteen bags of blood in the last year, and about ten of those were during this latest hospital stay,” Alle said. “I definitely notice a difference after each transfusion! I feel more warm and cheery, as odd as that sounds. I feel like it gives me my color back as well, and gives me more strength. I wish I had a better way to explain it. It is almost magical how much it helps.”

Hoxworth is the only steward of the blood supply in the Cincinnati area, serving more than 30 hospitals in 18 counties in Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana—and since blood products cannot be created in a lab, these lifesaving transfusions have to come from volunteer blood donors. Alle is grateful for those selfless individuals who make the time to give of themselves for patients like herself.

“I would absolutely hug the person or persons who donated the blood I received. I would love to thank them in person and let them know that I am a living, breathing person that they helped with their short donation time,” she declares. “You have no idea how much receiving blood changes your life until you need it and receive it. I am so fortunate to have been able to receive blood from the local supply.”

“So if you are a local donor, (especially O+), there is a chance I received your blood and am alive and feeling so much better with your donation,” she continues. “Thank you, thank you! Please continue to donate! Patients like me need you!”

And if you aren’t yet a donor, Alle wants to encourage you to consider rolling up a sleeve—because she knows firsthand that it’s such an easy thing to do.

“I actually started donating blood myself shortly before becoming ill,” she says, “and I wish I had been able to donate more before all this happened.” 

And now, as a recipient, she’s making it her another one of her passions to promote blood donation in the community.

“I completely understand being nervous to donate blood or platelets, but it goes by so much faster than you'd ever expect! The staff is so friendly and understanding and honestly, you ARE saving lives,” she says encouragingly. “Without donated blood, I could very well not be here. So, if you could do something as simple as sit in a chair for a bit, donate blood and save a life, then please do. Try it just once and see how it goes!”

When you donate with Hoxworth, you are saving lives close to home—just like Alle’s. If you’re ready to schedule your next donation, call us at (513) 451-0910 or visit our Donor Portal.