PORTAGE, Pa. (WTAJ) — Carson James has come a long way.
In fact, you’d never know this three and half-year-old, a happy and funny little boy, had such a rough start.
“It doesn’t really hit home until it hits home. You know what I mean?” says his mother Ashley.
She’ll never forget the first few months of his life, trying to figure out what was wrong.
“Scary, for sure,” she says. “At four months of age, his head size grew a lot, his, there were lots of different signs, he wasn’t really seeing. went to the eye doctor at two months old, he was almost considered blind.”
The ventricles in Carson’s brain were enlarged. So at 10 months, he had an MRI.
“And that’s when they found the tumor. It was so large it completely blocked the 4th ventricle, there was no spinal fluid flowing through his brain down to his spine, no circulation. And that’s why the fluid built up in his brain,” explains Ashley.
Carson was diagnosed with Medulloblastoma Cancer.
He had three rounds of chemo, then three rounds of high dose chemo.
“The chemo he had those last three rounds were so incredibly toxic we had to wear gloves to change his diaper, they suggest we wear long sleeves for the first like 48 hours after the chemo,” says Ashley.
This is when Ashley realized the importance of giving blood.
“There are moments through this process I obviously will never forget, there are moments I will never take for granted, ever in my life and blood products is one of them, they have saved my child,” she says.
Carson had 2 red-cell only, blood transfusions, 9 whole blood transfusions. and 18 platelet transfusions.
“There were days when he actually had three blood products three days in a row, day after day after day because his body wasn’t absorbing them,” explains Ashley.
Making it more difficult was that Carson’s blood type is O-Negative. While that makes him a universal donor, he can only receive O-Negative blood type back.
“The scariest part was the platelets because they only have a shelf life of a couple days,” says Ashley. “In pediatrics, even though the blood type is taken out it, they still try to match you so that’s the scary part.”
But even scarier to Ashley was a moment in the hospital, she’ll never forget.
“I probably shouldn’t have heard it but the doctors were talking, the doctor came in and said and it wasn’t for Carson, thank goodness he didn’t need product. There was one donation of platelets and two kids needed them. And the nurse said to him, you need to make a decision, which one is in more dire need of this product. How scary is that?” says Ashley.
Carson still has a long way to go and she says, he’ll never be considered cancer-free.
But the lessons about blood products and the need for blood donations have stayed with her.
“They can’t be made by a machine, they’re biologically, they can’t be reproduced in a lab somewhere, they have to come from us,” says Ashley.
So when that call comes, Ashley no longer hesitates because she knows without blood donations Carson wouldn’t be here today.
“We have to stop the excuses and step up because tomorrow might be too late,” says Ashley. “And let’s just hope it’s not you.”