IF IT wasn't for blood donations from complete strangers, little Ivy Exantus wouldn't be here today.

After being diagnosed with rare blood disorder Fanconi Anemia last year, every move she made had to be monitored by her parents.

FA has the potential to lead to bone marrow failure and subsequently, insidious diseases like leukamia.

The smallest bumps and bruises could be life threatening.

Ivy spent most of last year in the oncology ward at Sydney Children's Hospital, at times kept alive by blood donations from strangers.

After a bone marrow donation from her brother Jaye and regular blood transfusions, she became strong enough to leave the hospital and enjoy her life again.

Yesterday, the bubbly four-year-old fulfilled a wish to travel to the Hervey Bay blood bank with local grandparents Graeme and Sharon Davies and see how some of the many donations which saved lives were collected.

 

4 yr old Ivy Exantus with her grandfather Graeme Davies at the Hervey Bay Donor Centre - pictured with his wife Sharon and daughter Kimberley Exantus, her husband James and children Isaiah,10, and Jaye,7.
4 yr old Ivy Exantus with her grandfather Graeme Davies at the Hervey Bay Donor Centre - pictured with his wife Sharon and daughter Kimberley Exantus, her husband James and children Isaiah,10, and Jaye,7. Alistair Brightman

Graeme is a regular donor at the centre and said Ivy's illness had reinforced the importance of giving blood.

"It's a great feeling, knowing you're helping out people," he said

"You just don't know who you're helping... (but) in just one donation, you can be helping multiple people

"Ivy's doing really well, her bone marrow is working really well, she's grown up a lot and is way more active, boisterous than the was before."

While the bone marrow donation was successful, Ivy will still live with FA and rely on blood donations from the Australian Red Cross.

In the meantime, the family is keen to enjoy some whale-watching and relax on Hervey Bay's beaches.

Mum Kimberley Exantus saidher children had showed great bravery during their procedures.

"Jaye went into surgery, he didn't feel a thing... about an hour and a half later he walked unassisted to Ivy's isolation room to go see her," Ms Exantus said

"Not even once did he ask for pain medication, he was trying to climb up the walls to get ice cream.

"He was perfectly fine, and so brave."

Since Ivy's surgery, Ms Exantus has made it her mission to change people's perspective on blood donation.

"For adults now, you don't have to donate bone marrow surgically," she said.

"That's another thing I was passionate about afterwards, educating people that it's not as scary or painful as what people would expect."



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