Hannah's Story



Without a caring, generous community that donates a piece of themselves to strangers, SunCoast Blood Bank could not provide life-saving help to individuals like Hannah Marsh.

Hannah’s story began in 2008 when she was five years old. She woke up one morning with a severe nosebleed, bruising, and purple spots all over her body. ER doctors found that her platelet count was fatally low and her organs were shutting down. Fortunately, a quick diagnosis showed that Hannah had hemophagocytic lymph histiocytosis (HLH). HLH affects about one in 1.2 million children and causes an immune system malfunction, destroying red and white blood cells and platelets. She didn’t respond to the treatment, and her only hope for a cure was a bone marrow transplant. “There was no match in our family or in the entire U.S. We finally got a match in Germany,” said her mom Kelly Marsh. “Hannah received the transplant one day before her sixth birthday, but for all the months leading up to that, she was totally dependent on blood and platelet transfusions to survive.”

In all, Hannah received more than 400 life-sustaining units of blood and platelets. Hannah’s older sister Shelby, became a blood donor as soon as she was old enough, and the youngest sibling plans to donate as soon as she turns 16. “Before this happened, I really didn’t understand the importance of having a local blood bank that provides the appropriate blood for transfusion as well as having an adequate, safe blood supply within the community,” says Shelby. “I did not have any idea that my family would go through something like this.” To get the next generation on board with donating to save lives like hers, Hannah strongly encourages her fellow high school peers to get on board with becoming avid donors, as she herself is now an active and frequent donor. “I want to give back to the community and thank donors for what they did for me 11 years ago when I was a kid,” she says. “I was given hundreds of bags of blood for months on end. So, I just want to give back a little of what I received.” 

Read more from the SunCoast Blood Bank BrandStory HERE

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