My name is Rhiannon Nottage and I am 16 years old. On May 7, 2014, when I was 14, I was diagnosed with Acute promyeloid leukaemia (APML), a rare form of leukaemia. Unfortunately, my GP missed my diagnosis and I ended up in the emergency department of Wellington Hospital, vomiting blood and bleeding from my eyes.
I was immediately hooked up to life-saving plasma, platelets and haemoglobin, and stayed hooked up for two days. After that I had platelets and haemoglobin for two weeks until I stabilised. I continued to receive platelets and haemoglobin throughout my chemotherapy.
Upon diagnosis, my white blood cell count was 13,000. It should be five! They had to put a new box on the chart for me and because of this, unfortunately, I needed an extra cycle of intensive chemotherapy.
At diagnosis, I had a brain scan to check whether there was bleeding in my brain. Then I was transferred to the intensive care unit (ICU) where I spent four days before I was stable enough to move to Christchurch Hospital. I was in isolation there for five weeks, then I was able to move into the Ronald McDonald House where my mum joined me for six months. All this time, my dad and younger sister, 12, were back home in Kapiti; it was really hard on our family.
From the date I was diagnosed through to the end of my intensive treatment, I received approximately 50 life-saving blood transfusions of plasma, platelets and haemoglobin. Some children go through their treatment with one or two transfusions.
Without the New Zealand Blood Service, and the wonderful people who donate across the country on a daily basis, I would not be here.