Teen's health battle inspires other teenagers

Blood drive to be held Saturday

DETROIT – We first introduced you to Elizabeth Sheeren last fall.   The Grosse Pointe 15-year-old has a combination of rare diseases that cause her immune system to attack her body and her brain.

Keeping her going is a treatment called intravenous immunoglobulin therapy (IVIG) that she receives every four weeks at C.S. Mott Children's Hospital in Ann Arbor. IVIG is made from blood donations -- the pooled antibodies of up to one thousand blood donors.  That means literally tens of thousands of strangers are helping to save Elizabeth's life.

"I'm just incredibly grateful," Sheeren said in November.  "They need to know that just sitting in that chair and donating is not only saving my life, but so many other kids' lives."

When Sheeren's story aired last fall, her family was stunned by the reaction.

"It was really really cool to see how many people truly cared and were like 'Oh my gosh, I had no idea,'" said Sheeren.

The show of support inspired Sheeren's brother Jack and her friend Hannah Homsy to take action.

"They were talking about blood so I thought, 'Why not a blood drive?'   So then I talked to Jack and Mrs. Sheeren, and they were on board, so we just decided to do it," said Homsy.

"So many people are doing that just for her.  It makes you wonder, how many other people need this, and how many other people need more?" said Jack Sheeren.

The 17-year-olds set out to organize a blood drive in Elizabeth Sheeren's honor. Their classmates quickly stepped up to help.

"All of them are like, 'Hey, I want to help volunteer, I want to help give blood.'  So it's been really awesome," said Homsy.

It's a moving experience for Sheeren, who has now had 70 IVIG treatments. 

"I felt really really blessed and felt the Lord's presence, that it was just Him working through Hannah and Jack," said Sheeren.  "It made me feel very loved."

She's also excited that her story will help collect blood for others.

"A big goal of mine is to help other kids because there are so many kids going through things like me," said Sheeren.  "And things so much worse.  And it's a joy whenever I can help anyone else."

The blood drive will be held Saturday, April 18.  It runs from 1:30pm to 7:15pm at the Grace Community Church at 21001 Moross in Detroit. Appointments are closed, but walk-ins are welcome.

If you can't make it on Saturday, you can make an appointment to donate blood at a local blood center at a time that is convenient for you by clicking here or calling (800) RED-CROSS.