Tough teen encourages blood donors

Tash May, 18, has a rare blood type and Tash’s mother Leonie Evans is donating blood.
Tash May, 18, has a rare blood type and Tash’s mother Leonie Evans is donating blood. Brenda Strong

TASH May will have to spend up to three-and-a-half hours hooked up to a drip each month for the rest of her life.

But Tash, 18, isn't looking for sympathy.

She reckons she's pretty lucky compared to many.

She was diagnosed with a rare condition called common variable immune deficiency (CVID) in Year 12.

The monthly infusion of antibodies helps Tash's immune system ward off infection.

Tash's mum, Leonie Evans, said her daughter had been sick "on and off, all of her life".

Her symptoms worsened in her last year of school, with Tash getting a series of ear and chest infections and developing serious bruise-like marks on her legs.

What doctors at the time thought were hematomas, turned out to be erythema nodosum - a hallmark of CVID.

A bout of double pneumonia finally brought about a diagnosis.

Tash was sent to hospital in Rockhampton, where her hematologist scoured over the many blood tests she'd already undergone.

"See all those marks on my arms?" Tash said, mid-way through telling her story.

"They're all from needles."

The doctor sent her to Brisbane where the family got the answers they needed, so Tash could get the right treatment.

"It's a lot better now that the treatments are happening," Leonie said.

"Before she was diagnosed she was always sick."

Still, Tash said having CVID made life difficult.

She said it was especially hard to keep a job.

Recently she lost yet another job, after a particularly tough infusion saw her call in sick.

Tash's employees responded by cutting her 40-hour work week to just one shift.

Leonie said her daughter's refusal to let her illness get her down made her very proud. Tash said she hoped the Chrome Divas' blood contribution drive would raise awareness of the necessity of blood donation.

"One of my best friends, she has cancer and she needs to get infusions all the time, too," Tash said.

"It's not just for me.

"It urges people to donate for everyone else."

Topics:  blood donors

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