Fifty reasons for life
By MEL MARTIN
EVERY four weeks, the life of 11-year-old Daniel Sauerbier is in the hands of 50 blood donors.
Daniel was diagnosed three years ago with common variable immunodeficiency, a rare blood disease that prevents his blood from producing antibodies to fight off infections.
For Daniel's mum, Prue Sauerbier, the diagnosis was devastating.
"My legs went to jelly, I cried for days," she said.
"We'd managed to keep him well, which was wonderful.
"But before Christmas he got very sick, and as I was sitting next to him in hospital, right in front of my eyes, he went blue."
Already on permanent antibiotics to prevent infections, Daniel now has to have a blood transfusion every four weeks.
"It takes 50 people's blood to make one bottle," Mrs Sauerbier said, explaining that the pure immunoglobins are then taken from that blood.
"That's 50 different types of antibodies. Daniel will need this for the rest of his life and as he grows will need more and more bottles."
Now the Sauerbiers' life revolves around a four-week cycle.
"We have to plan around the next transfusion. We have a camping trip planned, but we can't go too far as we have to be back for the next transfusion.
"There are a lot of things he won't be able to do. For example, he'll never be able to do things like a six-week trip around Europe."
But Daniel doesn't let his condition stop him from living life to the fullest, playing soccer for the Boambee Hornets, NRL for Toormina Primary, and body-boarding whenever he can fit it in.
And while Mrs Sauerbier says she feels a little safer now that Daniel is on the transfusions, every phone call is a potential scare.
"He goes down very quickly. He could be playing cricket one minute, and the next be flat on his back and have to go to hospital."
With a shortage of blood donors, the fact that Daniel will rely on blood donations for the rest of his life is a constant worry.
"People as young as 16 can donate blood. We need to make it part of our culture, that every three months you give blood," Mrs Sauerbier said.
"Most people don't think about it, unless they're touched by it. But if anything happened they would expect that blood to be there. We were only 40 hours from running out just last week.
"One day that blood might not be there."
If you wish to make a blood donation, call the Coffs Harbour Blood Service on 6651 6844 to make a time.