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Family, friends give blood to show love for ‘miracle girl’

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Catherine W. Idzerda
November 25, 2009
— Wendy Aide carries an air of miracles wherever she goes.

When she says “Hello,” her face becomes luminous, a beacon of joy.


It’s possible that when death reached for her on the operating table, Aide smiled and said, “Hello,” and the specter—stunned by her light—beat a startled retreat.


On Monday, Aide’s friends, family, co-workers and a bunch of people she barely knew attended a Red Cross blood drive dedicated to her.


She was there, too, greeting people and spreading her joy.


“This is so wonderful,” Aide said of the people waiting to have their blood drawn. “They’re breathing life into other people.”


Aide is a bit of a miracle herself.


In August, Aide was diagnosed with a myeloproliferative disorder, a condition that causes the bone marrow to pump out more blood cells than the body needs.


That, in turn, caused portal vein thrombosis, a blockage to the big vein going into the liver.


Translation? Aide was in big, big trouble.


A team of surgeons worked on her, repeatedly pulling the clots out of the big vein. Twice, her family was called aside and told she probably wouldn’t survive—and if she did survive, she’d have brain and liver damage.


Every day for three weeks, her husband, Randy, and his parents, Ron and Dianne Aide, traveled to Madison.


For much of the time, she was in a coma. Randy held her hand until the nurses made him take a break. Then a nurse or his parents would take over.


One night, she needed 25 pints of blood—keep in mind that an average person has 8 to 10 pints of blood in his or her body.


When she awoke from her coma, the doctors called her their “miracle girl.”


She still faces plenty of challenges. Her type of disorder often leads to leukemia, so she’ll have to have her red and white blood cells checked regularly.


In addition, she’s still in a lot of pain. Doctors couldn’t sew the muscles in her abdomen back together because her internal organs are swollen and her body is filled with fluid. Besides, surgeons wanted easy access to her internal organs if she has any more problems.


A piece of mesh under her skin keeps things in place.


In a few months, when things are stable, they’ll go back in and sew her muscles together.


But here’s the best part of the story, the part that makes you believe in good karma or “paying it forward”: Aide comes from an extended family of active blood donors.


Randy’s parents have given more than 100 pints apiece over their lifetimes. Her sister-in-law, Roxanne Aide, and her boyfriend, Dave Prohaska, have given more than 50 pints apiece over their lifetimes.


Her husband, however, had never given blood until Monday.


“I just never thought about it,” he said. “Now, I’ll be giving for the rest of my life.”


Life has dealt Aide and her family a series of blows in the past year, but she still sees blessings all around her.


Randy lost his job at General Motors in February; he had worked there for 23 years.


But that job loss meant he could be with his wife every day, and Aide said she couldn’t have made it without him.


She also feels blessed to have continuing health insurance so she can get the best care possible. Her husband will have insurance for another year.


She’s grateful for Ron and Dianne, who visited her every day, and for Roxanne, who created a Web page for her on CaringBridge.org, a site that allows hospital patients to post updates.


On Monday, as she looked around at all the people getting ready to donate blood, she said it again, with feeling: “I truly am blessed.”



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