Blood donors save Missouri City boy’s life

By Michael Sudhalter
msudhalter@fortbendstar.com

Missouri City residents Andre Graves, and his mother, Frances Hernandez, share their amazing story of Graves’ survival from a rare illness. He received four pints of blood from the Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center, and now, the family encourages others to donate blood.  (Photos by Michael Sudhalter)

Missouri City residents Andre Graves, and his mother, Frances Hernandez, share their amazing story of Graves’ survival from a rare illness. He received four pints of blood from the Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center, and now, the family encourages others to donate blood. (Photos by Michael Sudhalter)

Andre Graves doesn’t know the people responsible for saving his life more than a decade ago, but tears come to his eyes when he thinks about it.

The 11-year-old Missouri City resident believes that divine intervention played a role in

delivering four pints of blood to save him from a deadly illness in 2003.

“God helped a me a lot,” said Graves, who’s entering the sixth grade at Quail Valley Middle School.

Graves and his mother, Frances Hernandez, have become active with the Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center (GCRBC). They recorded a public service announcement for the non-profit organization and appeared on one the organization’s calendars.

Hernandez tries to encourage friends and co-workers to participate in blood drives. Donors must be at least 17 years old.

“I instill in Andre how important it is to pay it forward,” Hernandez said. “All of the adults in our family are donors, knowing what happened to Andre.”

The GCRBC will host a blood drive from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday before the Sugar Land Skeeters’ game at Constellation Field.

Graves was born six weeks pre-mature on July 4, 2003, and it affected his immune system.

Andre Graves, left, and his mother, Frances Hernandez, share a light moment outside their Missouri City home. Graves’ life was saved by blood donors 10 years ago. (Photos by Michael Sudhalter)

Andre Graves, left, and his mother, Frances Hernandez, share a light moment outside their Missouri City home. Graves’ life was saved by blood donors 10 years ago. (Photos by Michael Sudhalter)

“Prematurity definitely played a part in the severity of his situation,” Hernandez said.

When Graves was 10 months old, he developed a Retropharyngeal abscess behind his throat.

“He’d run high fevers with a lot of fussing and crying,” Hernandez said. “Doctors kept saying he had a virus, and they thought it would pass.”

On May 15, 2004 —  Hernandez’s first Mother’s Day ‚ “she took Graves to a Memorial Hermann hospital where they figured out the situation was more serious than doctors elsewhere had thought.

Graves’ abscess ruptured, and the resulting infection went into his chest cavity. He had trouble breathing and ran a high fever.

His blood pressure dropped, and doctors were concerned his lungs would collapse.

Doctors and nurses began comforting Hernandez and Andre’s father, Andre Graves Sr., because they were concerned that he wasn’t going to survive.

Graves received four pints of blood from GCRBC donors that played an important role in his recovery.

Today, Graves is a healthy pre-teen who regularly makes the honor roll and competes in football, basketball and baseball. Obviously, he was too young to remember the scary experience from the spring of 2004, but he’s certainly grateful.

Blood Drive on Saturday

Help save a life before the Sugar Land Skeeters take on the Camden Riversharks between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. on Saturday at Constellation Field for a chance to throw out the first pitch. The all-day blood drive begins in the exclusive Insperity Club, where donors will have the opportunity to meet the players from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The blood drive continues until 7 p.m.

Donors should drink plenty of water and eat a hearty meal prior to giving.

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