“Trust me as living proof, you never see it coming when you will be dependent upon these life-giving gifts from others, but when you do, you never take a drop for granted.”
For Tina Snider, a northern Kentucky native living with Immune Thrombocytopenia Purpura (ITP), Common Variable Immunodeficiency (CVID) and Interstitial Lung Disease (ILD), blood donations can mean the difference between life and death—and she is forever grateful.
“I am beyond humbled by the fact that there is a treatment for the rare conditions I have,” explains Tina. “And it comes directly from my community by way of the selfless donations of everyday Heroes.”
In early 2010, Tina started noticing bruises around her body but shrugged it off, not knowing how they appeared. As time went on, she grew weaker, experienced nose bleeds and intense fatigue until she went to the doctor, thinking she had the flu in combination with a migraine. Her primary care physician showed concern about the bruising.
“He wasn’t satisfied with my shrugs and claims of not having any idea where most of the bruises originated,” she recalls. “He was very concerned someone was abusing me! But I had to laugh and assure him that was far from true. He pointed out a distinct bruise on my upper arm that looked like a handprint wrapped around it. It was true but it was literally from my partner innocently helping me out of the car only days before, because I was feeling weak and dizzy.”
Her physician ordered bloodwork, and Tina went home to rest—but not for long. The next morning, Tina received a call from a panicked nurse ordering her to immediately go to the ER due to critically low platelets. “She explained I only had 6,000 platelets, when the normal standard minimal is no less than around 155,000,” Tina says. By the time Tina made it to the hospital, her platelet count was 0.
She was immediately ordered to have six units of platelets ordered from Hoxworth Blood Center to do immediate transfusions for her blood type. In 2010 at just 42 years old, Tina was diagnosed with Immune Thrombocytopenia Purpura, also known as ITP, is a disorder that results in excessive bruising due to lack of platelets in the blood. This disorder causes the immune system to over react and make your antibodies attack and destroy platelets.
“Of course, we whipped out our cellphones, Googling Hoxworth, and platelet transfusions!” Tina recalls. We learned that platelets have a short lifespan over several days when transfused, and we were amazed to learn each unit of platelets is often created from a pool of multiple donors.”
The six units of platelet were transfused overnight, and Tina’s counts immediately surged. “My platelet count went from zero to 39,000! Although still very low, my Hematologist and medical staff were relieved, as I was now out of the critical low level of 30k or less. I even felt a little better,” she says. “Unfortunately, my body immediately started attaching my beautiful newly gifted golden platelets--but they gave us the window of time needed to start the next steps of finalizing the diagnosis and starting the needed courses of treatment to find a way to stop my antibodies from destroying my own production of platelets.”
In addition to Tina’s ITP diagnosis, she continued to get frequent infections and what she thought were allergy attacks. In April of 2018, she caught a serious case of Influenza Type A that quickly turned into pneumonia. With this pneumonia lingering over the course of 9 plus months, many tests were done to find the cause.
By November 2018, after two lung biopsy procedures - the pneumonia was typed, 2 viruses were found, and multiple types of lung damage due to the infections. Despite the new diagnoses, there was still a missing piece to explain "why" – and more bloodwork. It was finally found that Tina had undetectable levels of three vital types of immunoglobulin antibodies. Without the antibodies being created by her plasma, her body cannot properly fight off diseases, viruses and bacteria causing infections.
The official diagnoses of this disease is Common Variable Immunodeficiency (CVID). The treatment of this disease & her ILD is called IVIG (intravenous immunoglobulin) or SCIG (subcutaneous immunoglobulin), which is a lifelong need for infusions of immunoglobulin antibodies (IG).
IVIG is made from donated plasma, which is pooled from thousands of individual donations to make even one dose. The pool for IVIG needs to be this large to incorporate a greater range of antibodies, which would cover a greater range of things they can fight off for the patient being infused.
“Many times, CVID and other patients dependent on IVIG, experience delays in treatments from days to weeks to months due to shortages of available supply,” explains Tina.
Tina is just one of many individuals whose life depends on local blood donors and Hoxworth Blood Center.
“It is frightening to put a human face behind the statistics for the need for those donations,” says Tina. “Until you unexpectedly need those type of transfusions or infusions yourself, the risks of not having enough available in our area doesn’t really impact your daily thoughts.”
Hoxworth Blood Center, University of Cincinnati needs a minimum of 350 units of blood and 40 units of platelet donations a day to keep up with local demand. There are hundreds of local patients just like Tina who are relying on local blood donors to stay alive and live a long, healthy life.
“Many people don’t seem to understand how many lives are truly dependent on them and the need we have in our area on a daily basis. Both my Mother and Maternal Grandmother experienced multiple lifesaving blood transfusions locally in their lives. My family’s gratitude could not be greater,” says Tina.
“I will NEVER let one drop of blood, platelets, plasma or immunoglobulin ever go to waste or unappreciated, which I am gifted with over the remaining course of my life. That’s my word and promise. I’ll never know at any given time how many THOUSANDS of people I may encounter on a street, on a plane, at work or at a museum – who may have been a part of enabling me to be right in that place at that very time, simply by their selfless act of donating their time and their blood products to Hoxworth. It makes me emotional!”