While vacationing on the Oregon coast in August 2013, Brylee Gabby began having trouble with her legs. Her father, Rob Gabby, recalls: “At first, Brylee said that her legs had fallen asleep and they wouldn’t wake up; however, we soon noticed that she had trouble walking.”
Within 24 hours, doctors found two tumors impinging Brylee’s spinal cord and diagnosed her with Acute Myeloid Leukemia, a form of blood cancer that affects the cells in the bone marrow. Leukemia cells reproduce fast and interfere with normal white and red blood cell and platelet production, lowering their blood levels severely and creating the need for transfusions.
Brylee immediately had surgery to remove the tumors and started a rigorous chemotherapy regimen to kill the Leukemia. Unfortunately, chemotherapy also kills normal cell production and Brylee needed red blood and platelet transfusions throughout her fight.
Brylee had to endure 111 doses of chemotherapy and a stem-cell transplant to achieve remission. During that time, she received 23 red blood cell and 26 platelet transfusions. Happily, Brylee is a courageous fighter. She celebrated her one-year post stem-cell transplant in March 2016.
During their daughter’s courageous fight, the Gabby family learned the importance of having blood products on hand. “We were so grateful to the American Red Cross and especially the individuals who chose to donate blood and platelets,” said Rob Gabby. The Gabby family urges everyone to become an American Red Cross blood donor and to consider platelet donation.