Adelynn Moody, 8, is battling leukemia for the second time after being diagnosed when she was five. There will be a blood drive in Harpswell Saturday in her honor. To sign up for an appointment to donate, call 1-800-733-2767 or visit RedCrossBlood.org and enter keyword “Adelynn.”  Photo courtesy of Bridget Murphy

HARPSWELL — The Cundy’s Harbor Community Hall in Harpswell will host a blood drive on Saturday in honor of 8-year-old Adelynn Moody, who has been battling leukemia for nearly half her life.

The blood drive is on runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Cundy’s Harbor Community Hall on Cundy’s Harbor Road in Harpswell. To sign up for an appointment to donate, call 1-800-733-2767 or visit RedCrossBlood.org and enter keyword “Adelynn.”

Adelynn was diagnosed with B-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia in March 2017 when she was 5 years old, joining the roughly 3,000 people under 20 to be diagnosed with that illness each year in the US, according to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Bridget Murphy, Adelynn’s mother, remembers the diagnosis as heartbreaking because “you never think it’ll happen to you” but said there was a silver lining to the news.

“We had this awful diagnosis, but in a way, it was the best diagnosis we could’ve gotten because it’s the most common type of childhood cancer, but the most treatable.”

After three years of chemotherapy, lumbar punctures, bone marrow biopsies and medication, she was deemed cancer free in June 2019. Less than a year later, the cancer returned.

“I knew something was going on because she was having severe leg pain like she had when she was first diagnosed, and as a mother, you want to take all that pain away,” said Murphy.

Since being re-diagnosed with B-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia in March, Murphy estimated her daughter has received at least 10 blood transfusions.

“When Adelyn is low on red blood cells and platelets, you can tell because she’s lethargic, but once she gets a transfusion, she’s back to herself again,” said Murphy. “Those transfusions bring her back to life.”

She spent six weeks in the Barbara Bush Children’s hospital in Portland undergoing multiple lumbar punctures, bone marrow biopsies and chemotherapy in March. She also was being treated for a blood disease, requiring blood transfusions every three days Murphy said.

Murphy said Moody usually needs blood transfusions when undergoing intense chemotherapy treatments and spinal taps, which usually make her sick.

“She’s a trooper, and she makes me stronger every day,” Murphy said.

Now seven months into her second bout with cancer, Moody and Murphy are asking Harpswell residents to give blood for Moody and other people in need, including cancer patients, those with a chronic illness and sickle cell disease, or people who have undergone trauma such as a car accident or severe burn.

“Sometimes people fighting leukemia can need blood on a daily basis, depending on their treatment,” said Mary Brant, communications manager of American Red Cross Northern New England.

“I can’t say thank you enough for the people who take the time to come out on Saturday,” said Murphy. “I grew up on Bailey Island and now I’m raising my daughter in Cundy’s Harbor. It’s humbling that our community is supporting us like this.”

Although she has never given blood before, Murphy said she plans to join her community and give blood on Saturday because “I want to help people as sick as Adelynn.”

Brant said someone needs blood every two seconds, and the American Red Cross must receive 13,000 blood donations every day to meet the need, but the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has staunched the organization’s blood supply.

The American Red Cross has an urgent need for blood and platelet donations to help prevent a blood shortage as hospitals resume all surgical procedures, according to the organization’s website.. The main cause for the shortage is gathering restrictions in most states, including Maine, have limited the ability to host walk-in blood drives the organization was known for prior to the pandemic.

“Blood donors are essential to ensuring the continued health of their community by making sure hospitals have a readily available supply of blood products for patients,” Chris Hrouda, president of American Red Cross Biomedical Services, wrote in a May statement. “Blood cannot be stockpiled like other medical supplies and must be constantly replenished.”

“The bottom line is there is no replacement for blood,” said Brant. “There is no source of blood other than a healthy donor, and at this point only 3% of people are donating blood.”

Brant said donors should only donate if they’re feeling healthy, but many donors may think they’re unable to donate because they take a certain medication. Anyone can call 1-800-Red-Cross or visit RedCrossBlood.org to see if they’re able to give blood.

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