Family hosts blood drive for baby’s first birthday

Christian Olivia Delaney, who will turn 1 on Saturday, might be one of the world’s youngest philanthropists.

To give back to a cause that is close to home for Christian and her family, her mother and aunt have organized a blood drive in conjunction with Christian’s “vampirella” themed birthday party at the Manhasset Great Neck Hagedorn Community Center located at 65 High Street in Manhasset on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Having been diagnosed with sickle cell anemia at birth, Christian has been the recipient of multiple blood transfusions throughout the first year of her life.

A person with sickle cell anemia produces red blood cells in a crescent moon shape instead of the typical shape of a doughnut without a hole. Sickle cells have shorter life spans than normal red blood cells.  Without a sufficient amount of healthy red blood cells, there isn’t enough oxygen being carried throughout the body.

Cherie Ferby-Guy, Christian’s aunt, who is a dance teacher at Berest Dance Center in Port Washington as well as a financial adviser at Merrill Lynch, said she and her sister, Chante Ferby-Harris, Christian’s mother, came up with the idea for a blood drive as a way to give back to those in need of blood donations and to raise awareness about Christian’s blood condition, which affects about 70,000 people in the country.

Christian spends about 7 to 14 days in the hospital each month to receive blood transfusions, which will most likely continue to be a routine in her life until she finds a bone marrow donor.

The New York Blood Center, which will be facilitating the blood drive, estimates that one in every 365 black children will be born with sickle cell anemia.

The organization also hosts a registry of bone marrow donors and estimates that 77 percent of the time a black patient will not have a match on their registry.

While bone marrow will not be donated at the event, the New York Blood Center provides an at-home kit for potential donors to find out if they are a match.

Those interested in bone marrow donation can register at join.bethematch.org/babychris or text Cure 73 to 61474.

Ferby-Guy described her niece as a fighter. She said Christian is currently trying to learn how to walk and takes one or two steps before she falls “but she will get there.”

Christian is the granddaughter of Karen Ferby-Guy, a professional dancer and dance teacher at Berest Dance Center. Karen Ferby-Guy is also a retired special education and after-school dance teacher in Manhasset public schools.

Cherie Ferby-Guy said the dancing gene has definitely been passed down to Christian, who is always grooving whenever she comes into the dance school for a visit.  

“She likes the downbeat,” she said. “Sometimes she’ll be in one of our classes and you’ll just see her moving on the side” of the dance floor.

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