Jessica has Hemphagocytic Lymphohistiocytosis, Eosinophilic Gastroenteritis, is TPN dependent, and started chemotherapy for the HLH on November 6, 2008. She is currently waiting for a Bone Marrow Transplant.
TOPEKA, Kan. - Another blood drive has been organized for Jessica Seidel. She's a 12 year old Topeka girl who has been going through chemotherapy and is currently awaiting a bone marrow match for a transplant.
Jessica's parents, Dave and Leslie, were both at the blood drive to donate.
Leslie stays with Jessica when she undergoes treatments at Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City. Dave stays in Topeka with their younger son, Jordan.
Jessica has been able to stay at home for a couple of weeks, and Leslie said she's been able to relax a little. "She's missing her friends. She's missing school. But at the same time, she's the most determined child I've ever met in my life. She has strength beyond words," Leslie said.
Jay Shideler Elementary, 4948 SW Wanamaker, Topeka, where Jessica was a student, hosted a blood drive Thursday in Jessica's honor. Leslie said with all the time they spend in the hospital, it's painfully obvious how important blood donations are.
"We watch just on one floor at one hospital how much blood a unit can go through and she has had several transfusions herself," Leslie said. "When we see people from the community showing up to donate blood - not only for her but for everybody in need - it's just overwhelming to us."
Some of Thursday's donors, like Linda Hawks, chose to give because they've been following Jessica's story. "I keep track of her website and my nephew suffers from the same disease. I'm going to do everything I can to help this little girl get better," Hawks said.
Others recognize the importance of regularly donating. Scott Henderson's daughters volunteered to help with the drive. He decided to stick around and donate. "I think everybody should give blood whenever the need rises to do it. It's just a good thing to do for your community."
Henderson's girls were two of a group of Jay Shideler students who helped volunteer. They are all fifth and sixth grade members of the school's student council, called PAC. Sixth grader Marissa Nuss said, "I'd say to Jessica that you have people behind you, supporting you, and people that love you. Just keep strong."
"She is frightened with the transplant that's coming up, but at the same time she realizes this will save her life," Leslie said. Jessica is staying focused on the future. "She wants to be able to walk through the doors of high school her freshman year. That's her goal for now: do the transplant and be well enough to go to high school in a couple years."
Events like Thursday's blood drive make Jessica proud she can use her illness to help raise awareness and resources for others.
"She has always been about everybody else," Leslie said. "It's always, 'If I can teach somebody now about what's going on, then maybe kids in the future... it won't be so tough on them.'
"So it's never been about her in her mind. It's just about what she can do to help educate others."
Leslie gave a big "Thank You" to everyone who donates, and asks the community to continue to keep Jessica in its prayers as they continue to wait for a bone marrow match so Jessica can get a much-needed transplant. A bone marrow drive in January was held in Jessica's honor and attracted more than 300 potential donors. Those tests are still being processed to see if anyone of them are a match.
When the Seidels are notified by the hospital that they do have a bone marrow match for Jessica, Leslie says they won't be able to find out the identity of the donor for one year. Also, the donor will not know who they're giving to for that time period. Leslie says they do want to meet the donor when that one year time period is up.
Check out the "Related Stories" section below to read about other community efforts to help the Seidel family.