Willow’s Mighty Blood Drive!

By Lisa Morgan, staff contributor, American Red Cross North Texas Region

“There’s a blood shortage, please donate now!” A plea that is too often made by the American Red Cross and other blood donation entities.

We know the need is great and, at times, even urgent, but for many, this task more often stays on the to-do lists, never getting checked off.

Erin Ensley of Weatherford and her daughter, Willow, know how precious life is and the importance of blood donations. Willow was placed on the liver transplant list at 5-and-half months old and received a liver around the time she was 6-months old.

“Her body started rejecting the liver and about 10 days post-transplant she was placed back on the liver transplant waiting list,” said Erin. “She’s one of very few people that has a very rare form of rejection.”

Willow in hospital bed
Photo Courtesy of Erin Ensley

In 2019, Erin and then two-year-old Willow, were enjoying a typical day when Erin noticed Willow did not seem to feel well. Erin monitored her and finally determined that her sweet little girl might have some internal bleeding, one of the many complications Willow deals with due to her liver transplant.

Erin rushed Willow to the local ER to confirm her suspicions. The ER determined Willow indeed had internal bleeding and needed to receive a blood transfusion. Unfortunately, there was not any blood available at the ER in her blood type.

The local hospital called Willow’s medical team at Children’s Medical Center in Dallas. Children’s had her blood type available and routed a medical transport to pick up Willow and bring her back to Children’s for care. The lack of blood available caused Willow to wait three long hours until she could receive the medical care she needed.

Despite the delay, Willow recovered. Unfortunately, she still requires blood transfusions while she continues to wait for another liver.

On the anniversary of Willow’s transplant, Erin likes to do something to honor the life of the baby boy who’s gift of an organ provided life to her little girl. In the summer of 2019, inspired by her own experience with a blood shortage, Erin hosted an American Red Cross blood drive at the Walgreens in Hudson Oaks. This blood drive broke records in the volume of blood donated in that area in one day.

Willow at her blood drive Summer 2019
Photo Courtesy of Erin Ensley

“One of the anti-rejection medications that she needs is created from blood plasma. With everything going on they’ve had to wean her off because the supply of blood products has decreased. That causes concern for me because if she needs it, I’m not certain that blood or blood products will be available.”

Blood products are only available thanks to generous blood donors who roll up their sleeves to give blood. The American Red Cross is committed to helping ensure blood products are available on hospital shelves when patients need them.

Willow as Wonder Woman
Photo Courtesy of Erin Ensley

Next time you hear a call for blood donations, think of Willow and remember that you never know when or how you can help save someone’s life. Don’t leave this simple act on your to-do list. Schedule your appointment today!

To learn more about blood drives near you, visit redcrossblood.org.

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