- Associated Press - Friday, February 21, 2014

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) - For most donors, the process of giving blood ends as soon as they finish their juice and cookies.

“You put it in the bag and they take it in the back and that’s the end,” said Brad Koch, “It’s anonymous.”

But there’s a whole other side to blood donation.

For Koch’s family, after the blood is tested and distributed to hospitals, it is just the beginning.

Koch’s daughter, Bria, 7, is one of only about 1,000 people in the world living with the rare blood disorder Diamond-Blackfan anemia.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in cases of Diamond-Blackfan anemia, the bone marrow doesn’t make enough red blood cells that carry oxygen throughout the body.

People diagnosed with DBA usually have symptoms such as sleepiness, rapid heartbeat and heart murmurs. In a few cases, there are no physical signs, but up to 45 percent of those who suffer from this type of anemia have birth defects or abnormal features. Heart, kidney, urinary tract and genital organ defects are often present also.

Regimens of steroids, blood transfusions or bone marrow transplants are the only treatment options.

Bria has received a blood transfusion every three or four weeks since she was 7 weeks old to manage her condition.

“It truly keeps our daughter alive,” said Bria’s mom, Bonnie.

“We don’t know any different. This is kind of our normal,” Brad Koch said on Monday.

After a transfusion, it’s as if Bria just woke up from a long nap. She goes right back to being a typical 7-year-old.

“I’m not tired anymore,” she said.

The second-grader participates in gymnastics, goes skiing with her family frequently and has a betta named Levi.

Since Bria could walk and talk, the Koch family has been trying to make sure people know how significant it is when they donate blood.

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