Local Teen Organizes Blood Drive
For Brother with Rare Platelet Disorder
If Kaleb Eberlein falls and gets a cut, it can result in a 911 call and being rushed to the hospital for a dose of “applesauce” – what the 12-year-old has called the thick, yellowish liquid that makes blood clot – platelets – since he was a tot.
Kaleb has macrothrombocytosis (MYH9), which causes enlarged platelets and prevents his blood from clotting. “The simplest little bump can leave a hematoma or a bruise. He doesn’t even know he does it,” says his mother, Heather.
Kaleb’s sister Krysta thinks more people should know about her younger brother’s rare disease and about the importance of blood and platelet donation – since transfusions are the only known treatment.
Krysta, a senior at City Charter High School, has devoted her senior project to finding out all she can about MYH9, and is hosting a blood drive in honor of Kaleb.
Saturday, November 18 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m
St. Simon and Jude Roman Catholic Church
1607 Greentree Road, Pittsburgh, PA 15220
To register for Kaleb’s Blood Drive, call 1-866-366-6771 or click here.
Use group code ZRTN0507
Unfortunately, there is not much information about MYH9 available. Only a few patients in the country have it, and even prestigious hospitals and universities that have tested Kaleb’s blood can’t determine a cause or cure. DNA testing of immediate family hasn’t turned up anything, and Kaleb’s twin sister, Abigail, doesn’t have the disease, nor do Krysta or her twin, Skyler.
Although he wants to play ice hockey and basketball like other boys his age, Kaleb has to be satisfied with deck hockey (wearing as much padding as possible), and shooting baskets in his driveway with his parents and siblings. The disease can also affect his eyes and kidneys, so he needs them checked regularly, explained his father, Chris.
“It’s so unique that when you talk about ‘cures’ there is nothing. There is nothing to compare it to,” added his dad.
Even platelet transfusions are only a temporary fix, said Heather. Something in Kaleb’s body “eats” the platelets. A day or two after receiving a transfusion, his platelet count drops to 7,000 to 10,000 (a normal count is 150,000 to 400,000).
Kaleb doesn’t like to talk much about his disease, but says he’s gotten used to dealing with it. His mom says he gets sad sometimes because he can’t do things other kids can do. “He’d rather play ice hockey,” said his dad.
The family has become advocates for blood donation, especially since a few times they have had to wait for platelets to be shipped to the hospital when Kaleb needed a transfusion. Platelets have a shelf life of only five days, and there is such a great need for them by patients in our area that it’s often difficult to keep supplies stocked.
“It’s not just about donating platelets. It’s about raising awareness of donating blood to Central Blood Bank,” said Chris Eberlein. “We plan on spreading the word far and wide.”
Use group code ZRTN0507 to sign up for Kaleb’s drive.
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