At just three years old, Elena Howard has already had a tougher road than most. She was diagnosed with leukemia soon after she turned two and immediately began treatment, which is scheduled to last two and a half years. Today at almost four years old, Elena’s will continue treatment until May 2024.
Elena’s mom Haley said that the most difficult phase of her treatment came in November 2022 when her chemotherapy led to life-threatening complications that left her fighting for her life in the pediatric ICU. During this time, Elena relied on blood transfusions to survive. “She has had approximately 18 blood and platelet transfusions. 12 of those transfusions were required last November. Thankfully, Elena is in a more stable phase of treatment now,” said Haley.
Haley added that, although Elena has not needed additional blood or platelet transfusions since her PICU stay in November, she has also received fresh frozen plasma (FFP) and numerous intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) infusions throughout her leukemia treatment.
Blood donors have helped Elena (who also likes to be called Laney or Laney Belle) to get back to all the things she loves most. Haley said that Elena loves “unicorns, rainbows, sunshine, princesses, animals, music and ballet. She also enjoys swimming, going to the beach, playing outside and being with her family.” Parents Haley and Cameron both had experience with blood donation before Elena’s diagnosis, but their experiences since have affected the way they think about donors. “The depths of our gratitude to blood donors have grown tremendously during our daughter’s treatment,” said Haley. “Cancer patients are reliant on blood donations to survive the chemotherapy treatment they must endure.”
Haley expressed her overwhelming gratitude for the outpouring of support her family has experienced since Elena’s diagnosis. “Donating blood saves lives. Every single time you donate, you are saving a life. It is such an incredible gift. I have experienced the greatest of humanity as I witnessed loved ones and strangers come out in masses to donate with the hope of helping my daughter, with the certainty their donation would save someone in need,” she said. “I am thankful every single day.”