Tymia McCullough has received more than 50 blood transfusions throughout her life.
The bright 12-year-old from Georgetown, South Carolina, suffers from Sickle Cell Anemia, and her painful condition means she requires regular blood transfusions to survive.
Like a lot of girls her age, Tymia loves cheerleading and dancing. She dreams of being a pediatrician and a professional model one day.
But some days she’s too sick to go to school. The genetic disease, which causes her red blood cells to be crescent-shaped instead of round, can be debilitating, and even life threatening.
When she was 11 years old, she had an experience she never wants to have again.
She was rushed to the hospital for an emergency blood transfusion. However, this time it was different.
The hospital didn’t have her blood type.
“It was the most frightening moment of our lives because at that moment I watched my daughter’s color fade, her activity started to lower, she needed oxygen,” her mother, Susie Pitts, told Humanity.
“Just watching your child or your loved one deteriorate or fade in front of you …”
Tymia and her mother waited and waited, hoping a unit of blood would arrive at the hospital.
“I was very sick, but I was mostly worried that the blood wouldn’t come in time,” Tymia recalled in an American Red Cross video.
8 hours later, a nurse rushed into Tymia’s hospital room. They had found the blood.
They both felt incredibly relieved. Pitts had to leave the room in tears.
“Those eight hours just sitting there was very frantic, very scary,” Pitts said.
Having endured such a terrifying experience, Tymia and her mom didn’t want to ever go through it again—or for it to happen to anyone else.
“Knowing firsthand with my daughter and experiencing it, I would never want any person to actually go through that,” Pitts said.
Tymia’s harrowing experience inspired her and her mother to motivate others to donate blood.
“Knowing that I needed the blood, I wanted to educate the world how important it is to give blood,” Tymia told Humanity. “Because the blood helps people get better.”
In association with the American Red Cross, Tymia and her mother host blood drives. Tymia also raises awareness at speaking engagements.
Whatever problems Tymia herself faces, she and her mother are passionate about their advocacy work—and grateful for every donor.
Tymia will need transfusions for the rest of her life. And according to the American Red Cross, someone needs blood every 2 seconds somewhere in the country.
So whenever Tymia gets a response to her awareness raising, she is delighted.
“It shows me that people are listening, and they care about giving blood to help people like me. It is important to the world,” she said.