Zack and Alex Driscoll
From left, Zack and Alex Driscoll
Zack and Alex Driscoll, ages 11 and 9, live in Greene, NY with their parents, Kerstin and Dean. They appear to be as healthy and active as any other children their ages, involved with soccer, wrestling and Little League baseball teams. Yet Zack and Alex are different from their friends, different because every three weeks these young boys need an immune serum globulin infusion, which is prepared from the plasma of many blood donors, to support their immune systems.
When Zack was three years old and Alex only nine months, they suffered chronic ear and sinus infections. Their recurring illnesses remained a mystery to their parents, until test results confirmed the boys were born with an extremely rare Primary Immune Deficiency (PID) called X-Linked Agammaglobulinemia, or XLA, a genetic disorder that prevents their bodies from producing B-cell antibodies that protect them from infections. They would require lifelong immune serum infusions to replace the missing proteins that contain antibodies necessary to fight infection.
Soon after their initial diagnosis, both boys had their first infusions. "From the very first time they had an infusion, everything changed," says Kerstin Driscoll, "Their skin turned pink, their cheeks became rosy and the circles under their eyes that I had always thought were natural, just vanished."
The Driscolls face their sons' PID head on, becoming active with the Immune Deficiency Foundation and taking the care of their sons into their own hands. Every three weeks, Kerstin administers the immune serum infusions to each child. For three to four hours Zack and Alex patiently receive their infusions and have even invited friends over on "infusion days" to see.
The Driscolls thank blood donors for their lifesaving blood donations. "We couldn't do this without them," says Kerstin, who also says that local blood shortages are always of great concern to her and her family. "We are always grateful to blood donors for their donations because with their help, my sons are able to live more normal, healthier lives."