Blood transfusions give life to girl fighting cancer

WASHINGTON – People who think they can’t change the world are wrong.

Just ask the father of a 12-year-old Maryland girl who’s fighting cancer. “Blood transfusions literally give power to our little girl that enables her to be a little girl again,” says John Carver of Manchester, Maryland.

Juliana Carver first was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma in 2007 when she was five. Since then, she has repeatedly fought it into remission after it attacked her arm, leg, chest and pelvis. Now the cancer has returned for a fourth time near Juliana’s right eye.

When Juliana gets treatments, the process wears down her body’s blood cell counts.

Carver describes periods between transfusions when Juliana had no energy to run or play or even walk up stairs without becoming fatigued. “She would just sit on the sofa and rock back and forth,” he says.

After Juliana gets a transfusion, Carver says, “She has color in her face. She smiles. She’s all teeth. Because she feels the energy of the blood that you have in your veins right now.”

Carver is an eager advocate of blood donation. Over the years Juliana has had 90 transfusions.

Every blood donation helps three people who receive part of it. But Carver points out that many more lives are affected. When someone is ill or injured badly enough to need blood, “It effects everybody in the whole household in addition to grandparents and aunts and uncles,” Carver says.

The day after learning about Juliana’s cancer, Carver says he remembers embracing his wife Tammy in the foyer of their home as she sobbed thinking that their five-year-old girl could die.

But donated blood gives life. It provides hope. “Your blood can make a tremendous difference in people’s lives like Juliana,” says Carver.

The Carver family lives in Manchester, Maryland just south of Hanover, Pennsylvania. Juliana is John and Tammy’s youngest child of six. All six children are adopted — four from Russia and two, including Juliana, from Belaruse.

For information on local blood drives, go to WTOP’s Summer of Hope Blood Drive page.

Juliana’s Facebook page has more information about her fight against rhabdomyosarcoma.

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