She has thalassemia, a form of anemia that requires blood transfusions every two-to-three weeks for the rest of her life. The blood is provided by the San Diego Blood Bank. The transfusion process, which began when Gabriella was nine months old, typically lasts about eight hours over two days at Rady Children’s Hospital – San Diego.
According to Erica Martinez, Gabriella’s mom, a hospital nurse responded when Gabriella asked about small children she saw with no hair. “Ella wanted to help those kids, so the nurse suggested donating her hair so other children could have hair,” said Erica. “Ella loved the idea. She realizes that generous people are helping her by donating blood to the San Diego Blood Bank, and giving up her hair was her way to give back.”
On June 29 in La Jolla, Erin Doumert, owner of Salon Elle, cut Gabriella’s hair that stretched about two feet long. The hair was donated to Wigs For Kids, a nonprofit that provides hair to children who have lost their hair due to chemotherapy, radiation therapy, burns or other medical issues.
“We have relationships with many people who have received blood, and they find all kinds of ways to give back to the community, but Ella’s story was compelling and heartwarming,” said David Wellis, CEO, San Diego Blood Bank. “Not many kids would be selfless enough to give up their own hair, and Ella provides us an excellent example of how gratitude for a life saving blood donation can be further perpetuated through the community, even beyond blood donors.”
The San Diego Blood Bank (SDBB), the primary supplier of blood to the majority of hospitals in San Diego County, is an independent, 501(c)(3) non-profit that serves hospitals in San Diego, Orange, Imperial and Los Angeles counties with blood transfusion products and reference laboratory services. Founded in 1950 with the support of the San Diego County Medical Society, SDBB currently operates six local donor centers and 10 blood mobiles. SDBB’s Cord Blood Program provides lifesaving stem cell transplants to patients worldwide. For more information, visit www.sandiegobloodbank.org.