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A Special Needs Baby Created a Special Need for Donors
By Jeffery Diffy, ASBP Blood Donor Recruiter, North Chicago, Ill.
Jonathan Brown is a happy 8-year-old today after his challenging start to life.
Amanda Brown has delivered five children. Her son, Seaman Recruit Jacob Brown, will serve in the U.S. Navy after he graduates from initial training in Great Lakes, Ill. He is moving forward and looking forward to the days ahead serving his country.
Her fifth son, Jonathan Brown, was born with special needs. His delivery also brought the need for blood donors to treat a previously unsuspected illness. This is their story.
“At 36, I found myself pregnant with our fifth child, she said. “I was overjoyed that I had the opportunity to know love in its purest form once again. Our first three pregnancies had been achieved with fertility treatments — the last two were my icing on the cake.”
Early on in the pregnancy, Amanda Brown was told that there was a slim chance her son may be born with Down syndrome, so the family elected to go and have a specialized ultrasound. During that ultrasound all the markers the technician was looking for came back as not being Down syndrome.
“I remember arriving at the hospital with my husband early on Dec. 11, 2008,” Amanda Brown said. “Because this was an elective caesarean, I felt more like I was checking in to a hotel suite than a hospital. Everyone was smiling (and) so happy. We were bringing a new life into the world! Little did we know what a life it would be.
“There are some moments in your life that you never forget. You can see them, taste them, feel them deep to the core. One of those moments happened about six hours after Jonathan was born. It was like our entire world as we knew it stopped dead in its tracks.”
After her son was born, the doctor informed them that not only did he have Down syndrome but that his blood tests also suggested that he might have transient myeloproliferative disease, or TMD.
According to the National Down Syndrome Society, TMD “is a medical condition found almost exclusively in newborn babies with Down syndrome. Not every baby with Down syndrome will develop TMD, but it is estimated that 10-20 percent of babies born with Down syndrome are diagnosed with TMD. This condition results from rapid growth of abnormal white cells. The abnormal cells may go away without treatment, or they may need treatment.”
For the Brown family, things went from bad to worse quickly. For the next two weeks, everything was “touch and go” as Jonathan received blood transfusions to keep him alive.
“We named our son Jonathan, which means ‘gift of God,’ and that is exactly what he is,” Amanda Brown said. “The emotion of it all, at times more than I thought I could bare. We took him home on Christmas Eve of 2008 believing that he may not make it to 2009. We found a great oncologist that gave us hope. In February of 2009, Jonathan had his last lifesaving blood transfusion.”
On Jan. 17, Jacob Brown donated blood with the Armed Services Blood Program while attending boot camp in Great Lakes, Ill.
Seaman Recruit Jacob Brown will graduate boot camp in Great Lakes, Ill., Feb 3 and then travel to Pensacola, Fla., to attend his “A” school as an intelligence specialist.
“I was 15 years old when I found out my mom was pregnant with my brother,” he said. “I had never done anything with special needs kids or even knew much about it. I also had never given blood when I found out about my brother. I donate now every time I can. My brother is 8 years old now and happy.”
Before joining the Navy, Brown attended Texas A&M and studied commerce. He always worked at a construction company.
“I enjoy donating blood and I also enjoy giving shout outs to family,” he said. “So here’s one for my mom (Amanda), my girlfriend and my sister (Madison and Mallory) and to my brothers (Jeremiah and Josiah). I also want to say hello to my brother Jonathan and to all the blood donors that helped him be healthy today.”
“The gift of blood saved my son’s life,” Amanda Brown said. “I am so thankful that the blood was there! I am so thankful for the blood drives that are done. I am thankful for the education of the importance of donating. We give back the ‘gift of life’ every chance that we can. It is the least we can do for the lifesaving gift given to our son. Jonathan is now a healthy and happy 8-year-old with no health problems.”
About the Armed Services Blood Program
Since 1962, the Armed Services Blood Program has served as the sole provider of blood for the United States military. As a tri-service organization, the ASBP collects, processes, stores and distributes blood and blood products to Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and their families worldwide. As one of four national blood collection organizations trusted to ensure the nation has a safe, potent blood supply, the ASBP works closely with our civilian counterparts by sharing donors on military installations where there are no military blood collection centers and by sharing blood products in times of need to maximize availability of this national treasure. To find out more about the ASBP or to schedule an appointment to donate, please visit
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