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Blood Drive and Band-Aids

Boy with rare disease sparks a drive to help other children.

Batman will be there. So will Scooby-Doo. And Transformers, of course, several Disney princesses, some ninjas and a host of other celebrities in small boxes.

They and a lot of characters like them are expected at a blood drive at Countrywood Primary Center Feb.9 to support Long Island Blood Services and Countrywood student Liam Gorman, who needs blood transfusions every two or three weeks because of a rare disease called Diamond Blackfan Anemia.

"When Liam was born, he had low platelets but we had no idea what was wrong," his father Anthony Gorman said. "It was a very difficult  birth. He got platelets in neo-natal and spent 32 days in NICU," the neo-natal intensive care unit. "When he was about 15 months he was diagnosed. Right after his first birthday, he started looking a little pale, his appetite decreased. It was a series of things, non-specific," his father said, explaining the journey that Liam and his mother, Clara and father then embarked upon to discover what was ailing the boy. After multiple tests, referrals, lab work and more, he was finally diagnosed with DBA.

The disease "is a rare genetic defect, classified as a bone marrow failure," Gorman, a paramedic, said. "His body doesn't produce red blood cells. There are genetic on/off switches, and in Liam, it's off.  It's extremely rare, just 607 registered in the DBA database." 

"Every two or three weeks he gets his blood products," Gorman said. And it was during those treatments and the preparations for his care that two ideas were born.  One was Liam's discovery one day that the hospital had eliminated character Band-Aids for cheaper, plain bandages.

"Liam was at the hospital for a transfusion," Gorman said, when he discovered the change. "The drama was incredible. He had to have a regular Band-Aid. It changed his mood," Gorman said. "Liam said, 'we need Band-Aids. No boy or girl should have to have an adult bandage'," his father said Liam said. "So last April we reached out to some friends to collect character Band-Aids and you would not believe how many people jumped on board."

Boxes of character-themed bandages are being collected on a continuing basis to be donated to the hospitals where Liam, who is 6, gets his treatments, but Gorman is especially hopeful to see them at the Feb.9 blood drive, which will run from 1 to 7 p.m. And that's the second part of Liam's story.

While discussing his treatments with school personnel, Gorman said, Countrywood Principal Karen R. Siegel learned of the complexity of Liam's treatments, and responded with, "You're kidding me, we've got to help one of our own."

So the school is hosting the blood drive in Liam's honor.  "By doing it in someone's honor, people realize, he's in your class, he plays with your son every day. By putting a face on it, the more people understand the need. It's not just a guy who's shot or stabbed," Gorman said.

"There is no cure, only treatment," Gorman said. Of his treatments, Liam "takes it like a champ. He's far braver than me or Clara," Gorman said. "Emotionally it's just such a huge toll."

There's also a blood drive in his name Feb.25 at the Smithtown VFW.

Mary Beth Steenson Kraese January 31, 2011 at 04:19 PM
To make an appoint to Donate Blood on February 9th @ Countrywood Primary Center in honor of Liam Please Call Christine Owens @ (631) 384-2017. Appointments must be made 15 minutes a part. There is also a " Character Band-Aid" Collection Box Conveniently Located @ Southdown Carvel, 210-C Wall Street, Huntington, NY, 11743, until February 14th. Thank you!
Anthony Gorman January 31, 2011 at 06:34 PM
Thanks for all the support. We will continue to collect band aids and the children really do love them. The Friday, February 25th, 2011 Blood Drive is at the Veterans of Foriegn Wars Hall 51 Juniper Ave. Smithtown, New York, between the hours of 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. you can register with https://drm.nybloodcenter.org/publicscheduler/BloodDriveLocator.aspx or email redcell911@verizon.net with the best time time can come by to donate
Walt January 31, 2011 at 06:55 PM
What hours?
Mary Beth Steenson Kraese January 31, 2011 at 07:02 PM
Countrywood Blood Donation Drive February 9th, from 1:00 to 7:00pm... Please call first to make an appointment 631-384-2017
Christine Weih February 01, 2011 at 02:49 PM
I am making up a flyer for my girl scout immediately - and will get them to the Carvel by the 14th. What a great opportunity for children to help other children...thank you!
Mary Beth Steenson Kraese February 04, 2011 at 04:47 AM
Christine please try and contact me - you can get my info from Artie @ Carvel

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