6-year-old Bay Area boy meets life-saving blood donors

March 1, 2013 6:14:24 PM PST
It took more than five people over five years to keep one San Ramon boy alive. Dillon Low was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder that required monthly blood transfusions. On Friday he met the anonymous blood donors who helped turn his life around.

The 6-year-old has a life-long connection with a group of people he's never met. The men and women in this room have waited six years to see what he looks like.

"I'm just very happy to meet this kid who I knew as the John Muir baby when I first was giving blood to him," donor Gail Grassi said.

In 2006 Dillon was born with Diamond Blackfan Anemia (DBA), a rare genetic disorder that kept his bone marrow from producing an adequate supply of red blood cells.

"Without adequate blood transfusion support, yes certainly, they could die," said Debra Callahan, M.D., with the American Red Cross.

Doctors quickly recruited a small group of blood donors to support Dillon's transfusion needs. His transfusions required day-long trips to John Muir Medical Center.

"Every four weeks we planned it," said Dillon's mother, Carol Low. "We could also tell as it got closer to the transfusion time that his lips would turn color he would be pale. He would be very lethargic and would be very irritable."

Finally in May of last year, Dillon received a bone marrow transplant from his brother Brody that helped him get rid of his condition. Now he can live a normal life without any more transfusions.

"Brody did save his life through the bone marrow transplant," said Dillon's father, Alex Low. "He'll remember that, too!"

Dillon finally met four of the nine people who constantly gave him the B positive blood type needed to keep him alive.

"I know that every time that you give blood you are saving lives, but to know that it is going to one specific person that is making such a difference in their lives is incredibly rewarding," donor Joe Gebis said.

None of the people there showed as much emotion and gratitude towards this group of donors than Dillon's two grandmothers.

The reunion was the first of its kind for The Red Cross of Northern California.


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