Allison Carpenter became emotional Tuesday when she talked about how much the community support has meant to her and her family.
Dozens came out to a blood drive this week that ultimately benefits the hospital working to save her mother’s life.
“It takes a huge community effort to beat this cancer,” Carpenter said. “I see the direct impact of patients needing blood and just the blood shortage—there’s just such a need.”
Carpenter’s mother, Cindy Woodmansee, is battling multiple myeloma, a cancer that attacks the blood, and so sometimes she’s been in need of platelets, and other times, typical blood transfusions, she said. (Friends and family created a Facebook page for those wishing to offer their support, and it had more than 600 friends as of Tuesday.)
This week, in recognition of the need, and in gratitude of that support, the family decided to give back by hosting a blood drive at Real Life Church.
The effort was hosted by Real Life Church’s Underground Coffee House on Monday, and before the event started, the sign-up sheet was already filled with donors, the drive lasting from noon to 6 p.m. The blood went to the UCLA Medical Center, and for the first time, allowed the center to use a mobile platelet-collection program the hospital created.
Woodmansee’s rare blood type and the challenges the family has had finding the blood needed is what inspired them to give back, Carpenter said.
Carpenter, who’s also a local emergency room nurse, expressed gratitude for UCLA Medical Center’s ability to offer the specialized care specific to her mother’s need and blood type, B-.
Their care and progress have given the family hope, as well as an upcoming CAR T-cell immunotherapy trial that Woodmansee is hoping to be a part of, she added.
The immunotherapy essentially uses the patient’s blood, separates the T-cells, which are then engineered to fight the cancer, and then re-infused into the patient.
The new treatment approved by the FDA last year, “is the equivalent of ‘giving patients a living drug,’” according to Dr. Renier J. Brentjens of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, another early leader in the CAR T-cell field, according to Cancer.gov.
Carpenter’s spirits are bolstered by the friends and family they have around them, she said.
“She has just this incredible community of people from all over praying for her,” she said, “and really just rooting for her.”
Anyone interested in setting up a blood drive in Santa Clarita to help out with a blood shortage can contact the UCLA Blood and Platelet Center at 310-825-0888 ext. 2, or via email at [email protected]