Red Deerian Brielle Robichaud, six, was diagnosed with a brain tumor (pilomyxoid astrocytoma) when she was just three-years-old.
Trish and Nick Robichaud, her parents, were quickly informed that the tumor required immediate surgery.
“The first surgery they did was the first day we went to the hospital,” Trish said. “We didn’t know how sick she was and they ended up doing a six-hour surgery on her brain. She could have bled to death and she required two blood transfusions that one day.”
Following the first surgery, Brielle has needed five more surgeries and 19 months of chemotherapy — all which required numerous blood transfusions.
“It was successful at maintaining the size of the tumor, but it would really take a toll on her body and her platelets would get really low. She would be very pale, would bruise easily, and as was really tired,” Trish said. “We would take her for a blood transfusion and then instantly the colour would come back to her cheeks, her energy would come back and she would feel way, way better.”
She added that blood transfusions are absolutely essential for kids who have tumors or cancer, especially since they allow for chemotherapy
“Brielle has had seven transfusions to date,” she said. “She has had transfusions of blood and also just platelets separately, which is something I feel is really neat. With a blood donation, they actually split it up and can benefit three different people. It is neat to see the amazing transformation in her body.”
Brielle finished chemotherapy in August 2017, which has allowed the Robichaud’s to do things like enjoy an evening at the Red Deer Rebels game as a family. Prior to the puck drop on Jan.3rd against the Moose Jaw Warriors, the Robichaud’s took time to encourage Central Albertans to donate during the Rebels vs. Hurricanes Give Life Blood Donor Challenge.
The friendly competition encourages residents in Red Deer and Lethbridge to book an appointment to donate blood. Last year, the Hurricanes were able to gather more appointments in Lethbridge, so Red Deer Canadian Blood Services are hoping to bring in more in 2018.
“They asked us tonight if we wanted to come and we are honoured to come,” Trish said. “We have benefitted so much from blood transfusions. We have had so many of our friends and family become first-time donors because of Brielle’s journey. It saves lives.”
Shaun Richer, territory manager for Canadian Blood Services, said the need is great for blood donors.
“We are always trying to encourage new donors to come and donate because the need for hospital patients is always there. If a new donor comes in today, hopefully they will come back in and see us again,” he said.
Forging partnerships is important for helping spread the word about the need for donors, according to Richer.
“With the help of the Rebels, we are hoping that not only can we reach our target, but hopefully we can also beat the Hurricanes because they beat us last year,” he said. “The biggest thing is to book an appointment. You can do it online at blood.ca, you can download our Give Blood App or even easier you can phone our toll-free number 1-888-2-Donate.”