Briana was a senior in high school and had been accepted to the University of Texas when she received a medical diagnosis that changed everything. While most high school seniors were preparing to go off to college, Briana was fighting for her life against a rare blood disorder, called severe aplastic anemia.
She’d always wanted to be a blood donor in high school, but there was always one reason or another why Briana was unable to give; first she was too young, and then she didn’t weigh enough.
Once she finally met those requirements to donate, Briana was told her iron was too low. That was the first indication something was wrong. Soon after, she began noticing other symptoms. Briana became pale and bruises appeared without reason. She got winded just walking up a flight of stairs and had constant headaches.
When she went to a doctor, she was told she needed a blood transfusion at once.
Briana immediately began receiving blood transfusions, getting platelets at least twice a week.
When an immunosuppressant treatment failed, Briana’s family members were tested to see if they were a match for a marrow transplant. 70% of donors who need a transplant, do not have a matching family member, as was the case for Briana, so she her doctors turned to the Be the Match Registry. Briana had five potential matches, but many patients aren’t as lucky. Some wait on the registry for years without finding a match.
Briana received a marrow transplant in 2014 from an unrelated donor, which sadly failed. This meant they would have to rely on a second donor. Just a few months later, she received a stem cell transplant, and that was ultimately successful. The process for donating stem cells is similar to giving platelets and can be done at the Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center.
Blood donors, and Briana’s marrow and stem cell donors gave her a second chance at life.
“And that impact trickles down to everyone around me,” she said.
Now 24, Briana just graduated from UT this May.
If you have questions about donating blood reach out to our Donor Advocates at 713-791-6608. They’re available Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.