Blood donors help Indianapolis boy diagnosed with blood disease

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (June 9, 2014)– FOX59 is teaming up with The Indiana Blood Center for a blood drive this Friday, and in hopes that you  will raise your sleeve, we’ll be bringing you the stories of blood donors and blood recipients whose lives have been touched by The Indiana Blood Center.

Meet the Whaley family!

This past December, fourth-grader Connor Whaley was celebrating the holidays with his family. His mom, Christy, says “the school kept calling us saying he looks green, grey, his energy level is down.”

While Connor never felt sick nor felt pain, Christy started to notice bruises on Connor.  Then, the family became concerned when Connor couldn’t finish a cross country race.

“I was noticing them,” said Connor. “I wasn’t feeling much. I thought I was just bumping into stuff causing bruises.”

The family went to their doctor for some blood tests, and they were immediately instructed to head over to Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital.

“Ultimately the diagnosis was Severe Aplastic Anemia, which is a blood disease,” said Christy.

Connor needed a bone marrow transplant, and it turned out his older brother Cobey was the match.

“I was really happy,” said Connor.

But before the two brothers could undergo the transplant, Connor needed chemotherapy.

“Family support and our network  immediately just surrounded us,” said Christy.

On Valentine’s Day – it was time. Christy says the transplant was a piece of cake, but Connor couldn’t go home right away.  He was kept in near isolation at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health for an entire month.

“I was kind of sad because I couldn’t see my friends and family,” said Connor.

Because his friends were not allowed into the hospital, they planned a flash mob outside of his hospital room window in the middle of winter.

When he was finally released, it was an even bigger celebration. Connor has been home now for about two months. He hasn’t returned to school yet, so he tries to keep busy playing games and doing puzzles at home.

The day FOX59 stopped by was a special milestone. It had been 100 days since the transplant.

Connor will have check-up appointments every few weeks and spend the summer slowly returning to his daily activities.

The family is now anxiously awaiting the 1 year check-off, which means more freedom, weening off the medications and Connor can return to school.

In their “Team C” shirts, the family says they are now regular blood donors, seeing all of the transfusions Connor needed has inspired them to help others.

“Somebody graciously donated blood, and he has been the recipient of lots of blood,” said Christy.

The Whaley family hopes you will do the same.

“It’ll help other kids and other people,” said Connor. “It will make them feel really good.”

“Everybody wants cash donations,” said Christy. “Blood donations are the easiest thing, no money, you go in, sit, it can’t take more than 20 minutes.”

It’s 20 minutes that could help save a life.  It helped save Connor and it helped bring back his energetic adventurous personality.

“I want to go to an island where you can swim with pigs,” said Connor.

Yes, pigs.  He’s already swam with the dolphins!

Connor is on the mend and he is feeling much better. One day he hopes to work for Marvel comics and help make super hero movies.

The FOX59 blood drive with The Indiana Blood Center will be held this Friday, June 13 from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.

You are invited to donate blood at their locations in downtown Indianapolis, Carmel, Columbus, Fishers, Greenwood, Lafayette and Muncie.  You are encouraged to make an appointment.