Gift of life: Massive blood transfusions save boy's life

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ7) -- A New River Valley boy has made medical history here in Virginia, and he even has a day named after him.

Cameron Crowder Pediatric Care Awareness Day is coming up in October.

However, Cameron’s parents are just thankful he’s here.

Cameron loves playing outside, throwing rocks into the river, and just being a typical four-year-old. But last October, his parents thought they might lose him.

It all started with a bad cough.

“(We) took him to the emergency room,” Cameron’s mother, Nicole Crowder, said. “He was diagnosed with croup. We treated it based on how croup should be treated.”

However, his case of croup got much worse. After another trip to the ER at Carilion New River Valley Medical Center, he was moved to Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital. He was struggling to breathe.

That's when doctors decided to send him to UVA Hospital for a procedure known as ECMO, which adds oxygen to the blood and pumps it through the body.

“Roanoke doesn't do ECMO on children, or they hadn't done ECMO on children until Cameron, and we needed that to keep him alive,” Nicole Crowder said. “That was our last option.”

Time was running out, so ECMO was started on Cameron while he was still in Roanoke.
With that and other procedures ahead of him, he also needed a massive blood transfusion.

Tanya Trevilian is the Pediatric Trauma Coordinator at Carilion, and she was a key part of Cameron's treatment.

“Massive transfusion protocol allowed us to have the capability throughout our blood bank to make sure he got enough blood,” she said.

Nicole Crowder, who is also a nurse, said Cameron's blood volume was replaced about four times.

“He got everything that blood donation has to offer, which is amazing,” she said.

Now, Cameron has beaten the odds. He’s not just surviving, but thriving. He's down to one medication a day for blood pressure and to preserve his kidneys.

“There's one answer for why he's here, and it's not only the miracle workings of the people who took care of him, it's the miracle workings of God, allowing those people to do what they did,” Nicole Crowder said.

Nicole Crowder has always encouraged blood donation. After donated blood saved her own son's life, it's become more personal for her.

“It changes your perspective,” she said. “It gives you more of a hands-on perspective when it's your own family member. And without blood donation, he wouldn't be here.”