Born with sickle cell anemia, ten year old Matthew from Providence receives red blood cell exchanges each month at Hasbro Children’s Hospital. That means the Rhode Island Blood Center’s Therapeutics team removes some of his damaged cells, while giving him fresh, healthy blood from donors like you.

Without those treatments, Matthew can go into sickle cell crisis at any moment, which causes severe pain, swelling in his joints, back pain and high fevers, among other severe symptoms.

“It feels like I’m going through something that I’ve never gone through, like bones breaking,” he says of the pain.

Matthew’s dad, Daniel, an accountant and nursing school student, and his mom Lydia, a physician’s assistant, would often have to leave work at a moment’s notice to pick him up at school and go to the hospital for urgent treatment, sometimes in the middle of the night. That no longer happens with red cell exchanges.

“I mean, look at my son. It’s given him life. He’s able to go on vacation. We’re able to go away without worrying what will happen,” said Lydia. Daniel says, “We can never thank every blood donor that helps him. If we could, there would be no way to thank them enough.”

A respectful soft-spoken boy who loves to draw, Matthew is so used to the treatments he feels right at home with the RIBC team. Tracey Driscoll, RN, BSN, manager or RIBC’s Therapeutic Apheresis program, says, “Matthew has won our hearts as his nurses and steals the hearts of everyone who meets him.”

In the future, Matthew may need a bone marrow transplant, which could cure him. His younger brother is not a match, and much more diversity is needed on the registry to save lives. You can register here online to be a marrow donor or at any of our centers and mobile blood drives.In the meantime, Matthew needs blood donors to live as normal a life as possible. “Please come out and give blood — for me and others,” asks Matthew.