DAYTON, Ohio — Through every hardship, Donna Agee and her daughter Dawn had each other.
Donna was a single mom whose only child was born with cystic fibrosis. The fragile little girl was not expected to see kindergarten. She lived to graduate high school, but no more. It was only natural that a daughter’s dying wish became their bond of blood.
“When she was born, she was having problems but we didn’t know what it was until two weeks before she was a year old,” said Donna. “They told us she probably wouldn’t live past the age of five or six. They didn’t know that much about CF at that time. They’ve come a long way.”
Dawn came a long way. As she grew with the disease, Donna made sure every birthday party was a full celebration because of the uncertainty of how many more might come.
“The summer before her high school graduation at Chaminade-Julienne, that’s when they take their senior pictures, and she looked great,” said Donna. “But as the school year went on she was pale and thin and got sicker and sicker.”
Dawn was frail when she graduated with her classmates. “She was in the hospital a lot the last couple of years, and I couldn’t be there a lot because I had to work,” said Donna. “She started having fevers and losing weight. I think she got tired, to be honest.”
“I apologized to her the night before she died. I said I wanted to feel like I did everything possible for you,” said Donna. “She had IV’s, a feeding tube and oxygen going in here and she said, ‘I just want all this off of me and taken back up to my room.’”
Dawn’s doctors wanted her to receive a blood transfusion. But she made an unexpected request. “They said Donna, she wants a blood transfusion but doesn’t want anybody’s blood but yours,” Donna said. “I talked to her and convinced her to get the transfusion and promised I would go give blood the next day, so it would be there in case she needed it.”
“Having that blood really helped her. She became chipper, sat on the bed with me and planned her funeral with me. That night she passed away. I watch her take her last breath. The next day I went and donated blood and I continue to donate because of her. That’s how I became a blood donor.”
Donna is also an organ donor because of Dawn. “She wanted to donate her organs but she was so full of infection, they couldn’t use anything,” said Donna. “But her beautiful blue eyes went to the University of Florida to be used for research into diabetic blindness. They told us she was able to help a lot of people.”
“She was very giving person as young as she was, to her friends,” said Donna.
Dawn lives in Donna’s in heart. She remains the little girl blowing out birthday candles, the teen in a prom dress on the verge of womanhood, her companion through whatever would come. “She never learned to drive,” said Donna. “She always wanted me to drive her. We were good together.”
Learn more at www.GivingBlood.org.