Bouncing back

Angus McPhail
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Clarenville girl coping with rare blood disease

Cherish Blackmore of Shoal Harbour was 16 years old when she had the worst headache of her life. She went to her parents and said she wasn’t feeling well. Her parents told her to take some pills and go to bed.

Cherish Blackmore

She got the pills and a glass of water from her kitchen and tried to go to the couch to rest.

“All of a sudden I passed out,” recalls Cherish, who is now 17.

“I wasn’t talking and making sense when I woke up … so they took me to the emergency.”

When she arrived at the hospital she had jaundice and was not lucid. She can’t remember a lot of what happened.

“I was in the hospital for a while,” Cherish said. “They took my blood work and … they realized I had low hemoglobin.”

Cherish was hospitalized overnight while doctors tried to stabilize her. She could not receive any blood transfusions because her immune system was attacking her blood cells and hemoglobin.

“They needed microbiologists to take the protein out of the blood transfusions,” she said.

She was taken to the Janeway Children’s Hospital, where she was fading in and out of consciousness. By the time her blood transfusions were ready, her hemoglobin was incredibly low. Cherish’s mother, Margie, says it was a very difficult experience to watch her daughter go through.

“Not knowing what was going on was pretty scary,” Margie said. “It was really hard.”

It was not the first time Cherish had received blood products, Margie said. Cherish had been sick in 2005 and 2006 and required blood donations due to her low platelet count.

Cherish has been diagnosed with a rare blood disease called Evans Disease, which affects about one in a million people. She is recovering, and if her hemoglobin counts remain normal, she can be taken off her medication, Margie said.

“With the medication she was on, she put on a lot of weight quickly, and as a teenage girl she really struggled with that,” Margie said.

Although it has been a very tough time, Cherish has been incredibly strong, Margie said.

“She’s got more strength than I’ve got,” her mom said.

Margie says the blood transfusions Cherish received were vital to her recovery, and she would encourage anyone who can donate blood to do so.

“You never know when it’s going to be your child, your family member, or you,” Margie said.

She added that people with especially rare blood types should definitely try to donate.

“Sometimes you think it’s just you going through this,” Margie said. “It’s not just you.”

Cherish has had more than 20 blood transfusions and volunteers whenever she can to encourage people to save someone’s life.

“Without blood transfusions, I wouldn’t be alive right now,” Cherish said. “Without people giving me blood, I’d be dead.”

The Telegram is encouraging readers to donate blood this week as part of its annual The Telegram Saves Lives blood drive campaign. The blood drive runs from Oct. 21-25. Check The Telegram this week for more stories on donating blood, and visit thetelegram.com for a special section with more stories and videos.

Geographic location: Janeway Children

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  • Hayley
    October 26, 2013 - 12:40

    I go to school with Cherish and have known her for a few years. We dont really hang out because we arent exactly in the same group. She is great. She is always so enthusiastic and hard working. When she came back after her long ordeal, we could all see that her face seemed a lot puffier than before, however I am extremely proud to say that none of us judged or made fun of her. We all realized that she had gone through a lot and that she had no control over the water retention. From where I stand, it looks like everyone was really supportive and tried to helpful to her. We are in classes together and from what I can tell she is doing much better.

  • Effie Pelley
    October 25, 2013 - 10:51

    Cherish, it is great that you are sharing your story, so encouraging and I am so glad you are well now. All the best to you.