Maddie Windle. (Photo: THV11)
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - It's been one year since THV11 first introduced you to 9-year-old Maddie Windle. The cancer patient is alive today partly because of blood donors. Unfortunately, her medical journey continues.
Wednesday is Maddie Grace's 11th birthday and she's spending it in the hospital. Other than being cancer free, her family says the perfect gift would be for more people to become a blood donor and save lives.
In 2013, Maddie told THV11, "Whenever I am getting the blood, I feel really good."
Maddie Grace touched lives and hearts with her incredible smile and extravagant animal hat.
"I love to draw. I just love animals so much," she told us.
On year later, Maddie is back at Arkansas Children's Hospital. This time she's wearing that same smile but with a different hat.
When we stopped by, she wasn't feeling well, so we decided against an interview.
Three years ago, Maddie was diagnosed with stage four cancer on her kidneys. The road's been tough. There's been several blood transfusions and countless extended hospital stays.
Then, exciting news came not long after THV11 aired her story: She was now in remission. But it was short lived. A few months later, a tumor was back.
Maddie's mom Gina Windle remembers, "It was surreal. It was like this can't be right."
Gina calls Maddie an old soul, a little girl with such maturity and strength.
On Thursday, she will have a stem cell transplant to replace all the damaged cells she lost during intensive chemotherapy.
"We just go in faith that this will take care of it," explains Gina.
Because of Maddie's story, dozens of people have given blood resulting in countless lives being saved.
"That has been our hope all along that something good and bigger than us will come out of all this," adds Gina.
Faith is more than just a word for this mom. It's a way of life. For Maddie Grace, it's the same. She's lived more life than many will live in a lifetime. For now, they will continue praying, hoping, and believing there will be many healthy years to come.
Maddie's family should find out if her tumor has shrunk or disappeared in the next few days. Her doctors have consulted with oncologists across the country for the best treatment plan.
If you would like to become a blood donor, visit the American Red Cross. THV 11's Ashley Blackstone spoke with Marci Manley about the great need for more donors in Arkansas, and which blood types are needed the most. Watch her interview here: http://on.kthv.com/1d8l5LM
Facts about blood needs:
•Every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood.
•More than 41,000 blood donations are needed every day.
•A total of 30 million blood components are transfused each year in the U.S.
•The average red blood cell transfusion is approximately 3 pints.
•The blood type most often requested by hospitals is Type O.
•The blood used in an emergency is already on the shelves before the event occurs.
•Sickle cell disease affects more than 70,000 people in the U.S. About 1,000 babies are born with the disease each year. Sickle cell patients can require frequent blood transfusions throughout their lives.
•More than 1.6 million people were diagnosed with cancer last year. Many of them will need blood, sometimes daily, during their chemotherapy treatment.
•A single car accident victim can require as many as 100 pints of blood