SARASOTA, Fla. — A high school student in Sarasota is paying it forward by donating blood for the first time after donations saved her life following a life-threatening diagnosis as a child.
Hannah Marsh was only 5 when she was diagnosed with Hemophagocytic Lymphohistiocytosis or HLH.
"They told my mom I had a 2% chance of living," said Marsh.
HLH is a rare disease that causes certain white blood cells to attack other blood cells, according to John's Hopkins. The abnormal cells then collect in the spleen and liver, causing them to enlarge. The disease is usually fatal if not treated.
Marsh needed a bone marrow transplant after other treatments failed to work. While waiting for a match, she received more than 300 units of blood products to keep her alive.
She received her transplant the day before her sixth birthday.
"Grateful at the moment. I'm pretty grateful that I get to give back what was given to me to save my life," said Marsh.
Marsh donated blood for the first time on Thursday at SunCoast Blood Bank. She says it was to demonstrate her appreciation for the hundreds who saved her life and to bring awareness about the importance of blood donation.
"Originally I wanted to do it two weeks ago when I first got cleared because I was so excited for it," said Marsh.
She chose to wait until September 26 to donate because it's the 11th anniversary of her bone marrow transplant.
"It doesn’t matter who it's going to. It matters that it's going to save their life," said Marsh.