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Posted December 7, 2010 | comments Leave a comment

Blood drive to benefit local woman

Abby Dellinger-Tusing
Edinburg resident Abby Dellinger-Tusing, shown with her husband, Brad, requires frequent blood treatments for a rare blood disorder. Courtesy photo

By J.R. Williams -- jrwilliams@nvdaily.com
WOODSTOCK -- Ever since Abby Dellinger-Tusing was diagnosed with a rare blood disorder five years ago, many numbers have been rising.

Numerous doctor's visits, plasma exchanges and trips to the University of Virginia for treatment have become a regular part of her life.

On Friday, however, Dellinger-Tusing, her family and a local nonprofit are hoping for the highest number possible: A blood drive has been scheduled in her honor, and the more people who come to the Woodstock Rescue Squad to donate, the better.

Sponsored by the American Red Cross, the blood drive is scheduled for 1-7 p.m. at the squad headquarters, 132 W. Reservoir Road. Donations will benefit patients throughout the region.

Dellinger-Tusing, 25, of Edinburg, was diagnosed with thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura, or TTP, a blood disorder with just 6.5 cases per million per year, according to the Red Cross.
A cause for the disorder is unknown.

According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the disorder "causes blood clots to form in small blood vessels throughout the body" and can cause bruising, fatigue and other serious symptoms.

The condition means that Dellinger-Tusing is required to frequently have therapeutic apheresis plasma exchange, which flushes the body's abnormal plasma and replaces it with fresh, frozen donor plasma.

Plasma is the straw-colored fluid that transports blood cells and other important components of whole blood. Dellinger-Tusing has undergone more than 70 treatments to replace her plasma so far -- a "tremendous amount," said Alice Shank, a Red Cross training specialist who has worked with the family -- and must receive two treatments per week for the next several months.

"It's so important for people to give blood so that plasma is available for patients like Abby, but also so that blood in general is available when hospitals need it for patient care," Shank said.

Dellinger-Tusing's mother, Debbie Dellinger, said she reached out to the Red Cross to organize the blood drive after the plasma, which must be of one of two specific blood types, appeared scarce.

"They had to order it from Hawaii, California, all of these places," she said. The blood drive "is not going to just help Abby, it's going to help others.
"I just wanted to do something."

Even those who are unable to donate blood are encouraged to help in other ways at the blood drive. Dellinger said interested volunteers can call her directly at 984-9471.
"I have several people who have said they cannot give blood, but that they are going to come and help," Dellinger said.

Dellinger said TTP once put her daughter in the hospital for 40 days. Dellinger-Tusing is in need of plasma exchanges again after going through periods of remission, common in up to 60 percent of TTP cases, according to the national institute.

Shank says she has seen how the blood disorder doesn't slow the young patient down.
"This is not a girl who said, 'I'm disabled, I can't work.' This is a girl who is still working just as hard as she can."

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