Jun 13, 2023

Blood Drive to honor Jaidyn Harlow

A blood drive will be held from noon to 6 p.m., Monday, Aug. 28, and Tuesday, Aug. 29, at the Claremont Senior Center, 5 Acer Heights Road.

CLAREMONT — The blood drive named in honor of Leukemia survivor Jaidyn Harlow is from noon to 6 p.m., Monday, Aug. 28, and Tuesday, Aug. 29, at the Claremont Senior Center, 5 Acer Heights Road.

The American Red Cross will draw the blood; donors with blood types O, B-, and A- are critically needed.

Harlow’s medical challenges began while she was a member of the school band four years ago. After collapsing during a football game performance, it was learned she would need a lifesaving blood transfusion within an hour.

Blood Drive Organizer Michael Huse said Harlow is celebrating one-year cancer-free after 90 blood transfusions, 60 bags of blood platelets (which form clots to stop or prevent bleeding), plus 21 spinal infusions all used to help with pain during cancer treatment.

“They had to flood her body with chemotherapy because they didn’t want the Leukemia to travel to her brain,” Huse said. “It’s painful to have 21 spinal infusions and seven bone marrow taps (ensuring bone marrow is healthy and making normal blood cells).

After T-Cell therapy, the youngest patient in the history of Dartmouth-Hitchcock to receive that treatment, Huse said Harlow went into a three-day coma.

“They drew her blood, sent it to California, and 30-days later, they changed her DNA and gave it back to her intravenously,” Huse said. “They flooded her body with anti-seizure medications because it’s like a foreign material coming in. Where we’re at now is remarkable.”

Huse said the blood drive started at the Masonic Hall, which was too small to accommodate the Red Cross.

“Now, we have it at the Senior Center,” he said. “This year, we’re going to a two-day event, the second largest in New Hampshire.”

After the 2022 Blood Drive, he said there was an all-you-can-eat spaghetti dinner that raised $7,000.

Huse organized a procession for Harlow with a parade and she rode with the two people who saved her life in the same ambulance that took her to the hospital.

“The Police Department escorted from Tractor Supply to the American Legion,” Huse said. “Her classmates came — 50 of them — and Jadyn received her Black Belt.”

“There wasn’t a dry eye,” Huse continued. “Any woman that can live and be so successful in fighting cancer deserves to get the Black Belt.”

Despite being cancer-free, Harlow has medical challenges.

“She’s having her shoulders replaced,” Huse said. “During chemotherapy, they gave her 100 milligrams (about the weight of a business card) of Prednisolone, which destroyed her joints. Jaidyn had one shoulder replaced, but now she’s lame. They also need to change one of her hip ball sockets.”

The doctor took the ball socket from Jaidyn’s shoulder, and it fell apart.

“Her second shoulder surgery is planned, but they decided to do the hip,” Huse said.

Despite challenges, Harlow has no other option but to keep moving forward.

“I can’t go to college; I haven’t learned how to drive a vehicle yet because I’m too sick,” Huse said Harlow told him. “I can’t get on in life. I get out of one surgery and plan for another.”

She is still optimistic, Huse added.

“She’s 20 and has had 90 blood transfusions and then another 60 platelets,” Huse said. “That’s 150 bags. I think I’m tough, but I would have called it quits.”

Huse said Harlow’s mother changed to a local job, and the family is “constantly nervous” about her condition.

“If Jaidyn gets the sniffles or is getting a cold, they’re scared the cancer is coming back,” Huse said. “Jaidyn got her first cold (since her diagnosis), and the doctors said she’d be okay. Jaidyn feels good, but her joints are shot.”

If someone can’t donate blood, volunteers are need for other tasks, such as washing down the beds before each donor.

“The Boy Scouts came in last year and wiped the beds down,” Huse said.

He likes beating the odds and bringing the community together.

“It’s an opportunity to give life, taking something out of yourself you can spare and give somebody else an opportunity to live,” he said.

To donate blood, call 1-800-Red-Cross.Walk-ins will be welcome the day of the event.

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