Oswego teen holds blood drives to help other sick kids

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Tia Carr manages severe health issues and organizes blood drives to help other kids who rely on blood transfusions like she does. (WLS)

Tia Carr, 18, manages severe health issues even while handling the rigors of college coursework and says she feels better when she's able to help other sick kids.

Carr wears a compression vest for 20 minutes every day to help break up congestion. It's one of many steps she takes to avoid getting sick.

"I used to get pneumonia and sinus infections and ear infections all the time," Carr says.

At 17-months-old, Carr was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. In kindergarten, doctors discovered she also had Common Variable Immune Deficiency, a condition that leaves her open to frequent infections.

For years, Carr has required frequent blood transfusions to help manage chronic pain and constant illness. It has often been difficult for their hospital to keep up.

"So many times we would get there and find out they didn't have enough," her mother Lauri says of the frequent trips to the hospital for transfusions, "and then we'd have to drive all the way back home or maybe get a partial and then have to go back the next day. "

"It takes 3.500 people to donate blood for me to get one infusion," Tia says. "So every single person counts."

When Car was in the sixth grade, she started getting depressed about her condition. A case manager suggested she organize a blood drive to redirect her focus.

"I was like so scared," she says. "I didn't want the community to know me as the sick girl and it was a huge step, but I realized even though it might hurt myself and my reputation, it could possibly benefit tons of lives."

To date, mother and daughter have organized 16 blood drives and have three more planned for later this year. Both say it is an effort they will never give up.

"Every day is a gift and it's because people donate blood," Lauri says. "If they hadn't donated blood she would not be here today."

The American Red Cross is teaming up with ABC7 and Blue Cross Blue Shield to host a blood drive on Wednesday, Jan. 22.

Call 1-800-red cross to pre-register and sign up.

Join ABC7 Cheryl Scott and Hosea Sanders Wednesday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Union Station to donate and help save a life.
Related Topics:
healthblood driveamerican red crossOswego
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