CANTON TOWNSHIP, Mich. – Brynlyn Adkins is the apple of her family’s eye.
The tiny two-year-old with the big hair bow is also a lot tougher than she may look.
“When she was born, she was only one pound seven ounces,” said Christina Adkins, Brynlyn’s mother. “She had really bad lungs and a bad heart.”
Born prematurely at just 28 weeks, Brynlyn spent almost two months on a ventilator and 129 days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor.
During that time, she needed lots of blood transfusions.
“It was everything. She has needed so much blood since she was born,” said Tom Adkins, Brynlyn’s father.
The Adkins were overjoyed to finally bring Brynlyn home to join her older sister Paighton and older brother Nolan.
Then last February, the family was dealt another blow. Brynlyn was diagnosed with a rare pediatric liver cancer.
“Just a feeling of pure terror,” Christina Adkins said. “One of the first things I said was, ‘Why does God keep trying to take her from me?’ Like, she’s here. We got this far.”
“It was a gut-shot,” Tom Adkins said. “You felt like ‘why her’-type mentality. She had already been through so much.”
But with their village of support, they quickly shifted to battle mode.
“We kept our faith and our family regrouped, and we knew if anybody was going to beat it, it was Brynlyn. She’s a true fighter, and we just took it head-on,” Tom Adkins said.
Again, it was the kindness of strangers who kept Brynlyn going, as donated blood gave her the strength to get through chemotherapy. The family was very aware when the blood supply dipped too low.
“There were a few times where they were very short. And it was expressed. And you start to wonder, what would we do or what are those other families going to do?” Tom Adkins said.
Fortunately, Brynlyn was always able to get the blood she needed. Last month, with her big sister and big brother’s help, she rang the bell to mark the end of her cancer treatment.
According to the American Red Cross, a decline in donations has caused the Red Cross blood supply to shrink nearly 20 percent in recent weeks. Type O negative blood donors and platelet donors are especially needed.
Brynlyn’s parents hope her story will inspire others to give.
“There’s just no words that will be enough to say how grateful we are,” Christina Adkins said. “We just hope to take that gratitude and keep pushing for more donors and for our blood banks to be full because it saves lives. There’s no way around it.”
“In moments, it saved her life, in other moments it helped speed the recovery process. Without that, we wouldn’t be sitting here today,” Tom Adkins said.
The Adkins family is also so grateful to the staff at Mott Children’s Hospital who cared for Brynlyn -- and them -- through these difficult past two years. Brynlyn’s sister Paighton was so inspired by their kindness, she has decided to become a NICU nurse and was recently accepted into the nursing program at Wayne State University.
Brynlyn’s health will be monitored closely, but she now has a bright future and is ready to catch up on everything she’s missed.
“She’s a little miracle,” Christina Adkins said.
To schedule an appointment to donate blood, download the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit www.redcrossblood.org, or call 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767).
You can also donate at Gardner-White stores on Aug. 16 and Aug. 18. Click here for times and locations.