Harry may have been born with an extremely rare genetic disorder, but thanks to blood donors around the country, you wouldn’t know it. This adventurous 20 month old keeps his parents on their toes like every other toddler.
On the 1st of January 2014, as the celebratory fireworks were going off, six-month old Harry was being sped away in an ambulance with severe breathing difficulties. It’s a New Year’s Eve that Harry’s parents, Geoff and Marie, will never forget.
Harry had suffered a chronic cough that had been treated, on and off, with antibiotics since birth. It wasn’t until Harry was hospitalised for a third time with pneumonia that it was clear something more serious was going on. The Starship Immunology Department got involved in trying to solve the mystery, and in no time they cracked it – Harry had X-linked agammaglobulinemia (XLA).
XLA is an extremely rare genetic disorder that affects the body's ability to fight infection. Harry cannot produce mature B-cells, the ‘soldiers’ that form antibodies, the body’s army against infections. This means Harry is susceptible to infections for life.
Thankfully the condition can be managed by a weekly immunoglobulin (antibody) injection, which Geoff and Marie can give Harry in the comfort of their own home. The immunoglobulin injection is made from plasma. It can be likened to donors sharing their immunity army with Harry and giving him protection.
While every sniffle and cough still needs to be taken seriously, thanks to his weekly immunoglobulin infusions Harry is able to live a relatively normal life. His immunity is tested regularly and is currently at good levels. Harry spends most of his time trying to keep up with his older brother Jack. He is a very cheerful and resilient toddler – he’s a runner, a jumper, a climber, a dancer, and a singer and (for those that can bear to watch) he has just mastered the ‘couch to couch’ leap.
Harry has now received 52 immunoglobulin treatments and is likely to receive another 52 for each year of his life. This is why Geoff and Marie are so thankful to New Zealand Blood Service and feel so blessed for the selfless generosity of its plasma donors. These donors literally give Harry the power of immunity and it is because of ongoing plasma donations that he is able to live an adventurous life, running and jumping to his heart’s content.
Find out more about becoming a plasma donor and show you’ve got a heart of gold, click here or call 0800 GIVE BLOOD.