Last week, 5-year-old Adelyn Troutman of Ahwatukee had her 80th monthly blood transfusion.
It’s been part of the little girl’s monthly routine ever since she was 2 months old and was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder called Diamond-Blackfan anemia, which prohibits her body from making red blood cells.
The cells have a relatively short life span, so by the end of four weeks after her last transfusion, they’ve all died off, forcing the need for another transfusion of blood.
The transfusions themselves take a toll since they can cause a deadly increase in the amount of iron in her bloodstream, which can lead to heart and liver failure with little warning. So that has to be constantly monitored too.
Through it all, the youngster has been a delight for doctors and her teachers – and an inspiration to the community the last four years since Adelyn’s parents, Matt and Kami Troutman, started biannual blood drives as their way of giving back.
This year, their spring drive runs 8 a.m.-1 p.m. March 27 at Desert Foothills United Methodist Church, 2156 E. Liberty Lane, Ahwatukee. Donors can register at bit.ly/3qJsM8x.
The drives so far have provided blood to help more than 2,000 people in need, Kami said.
And this month’s drive will be the first in a year, since the uncertainties of the pandemic prompted the Troutmans and the Red Cross to cancel a fall drive.
Even the spring drive was “a challenge with the restrictions changing every day,” Matt said.
“We had once again filled all of our sign- up time slots with the way this drive has grown in popularity over the years,” he said. “The biggest challenge was that we had to completely reconfigure the set-up and on the day of the drive, they decided we were not going to be allowed to take walk-in appointments.
“This killed us because with the number of no shows and cancellations, we could have easily taken them – and these were some of our regulars, which even hurt worse.”
Even so – in a remarkable display of the Ahwatukee community’s support for Addy – 166 people signed up to donate and “we collected about 140 units, which was no small feat.”
“Several people asked about the drive and encouraged us to do it again so we weren’t going to miss the spring date,” Matt said. “So many people are inspired by her blood drive and by her, that we had to put it on for them. We planned the spacing far ahead of time and accessed all of the precautions we would need to have in place.
“We have put forth the effort to try to alleviate any unforeseen challenges jumping up on the day of the drive like last time.”
Local businesses also are putting up Addy’s picture to encourage sign-ups.
The Red Cross has consistently said that with the precautions it puts in place, donating blood is not only possible during the pandemic but vitally needed, since many drives have been hampered over the past year.
Meanwhile, Adelyn herself “has been doing great,” her father said.
The iron levels are still concerning “but they have been maintained fairly well,” he said.
“She is such a trooper for taking her pills morning and night,” Matt said. “It makes it easy to stay on top of it when she is so good about taking her medication.”
This fall Addy will be entering kindergarten after finishing up at the Village Preschool at the Liberty Lane church.
And, her father said, it’s not so much that he and Kami have to keep up Addy’s spirits during her ordeal but “kind of the other way around.”
“She is the one that keeps our spirits up. I don’t know how she does it but she is the happiest little girl you’d ever meet so it lifts the spirits of everyone around her cause we know what she goes through and if she’s able to do it month after month and be so happy then we have no reason to ever be upset. She is quite the inspiration,” Matt said.
Anyone who knows Addy agrees.
Denise Savoy, Adelyn’s preschool teacher, said “ If you ever wanted to know what it means to be strong and brave, just look at Adelyn Troutman. Although she suffers from a rare blood disorder, you would never know it by seeing her beaming smile.
“Having Adelyn in class has truly taught me to be grateful and appreciative of each and every day. I can always tell when Adelyn is due for her next transfusion as she may be a little pale and a little tired, but that will never stop her. She never complains and is always full of excitement and always has that infectious smile.”
Savoy said Adelyn loves to make people laugh, even when she nears the time for a transfusion and begins looking pale and tired.
“Her classmates are very inquisitive about why she has to miss school and have blood transfusions,” Savoy said. “They ask her lots of questions and Adelyn always gets an excited look on her face and answers their questions and she always tells them, ‘I am brave and strong.’”
The staff at Step By Step Pediatrics concurs.
“Adelyn lights up a room with her smile, bringing so much joy into the world,” said Theresa Lindstrom PA-C. “In meeting her you would never know all that goes into her living the beautifully normal life she does.
“But she continues to depend on the blood donations of strangers to keep her vitality. Her story motivates me and so many to realize how donating blood can impact a life.”