Meridian Star

October 10, 2013

Special blood drive for Sophia Graves

The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN —    CHUNKY  – The family of a baby facing a life-threatening illness is hoping for support through a blood drive that is scheduled for this weekend.

    Eric Graves and his wife Renee have three children, Jackson Partridge; 9, Keiden Graves; 8, and Sophia Graves; 10 months.

    Sophia was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) on Sept. 24 of this year.

     "Sophia started getting sick a few weeks ago, and we took her to a pediatrician several times before he referred her to UMMC," Eric Graves wrote in a letter to The Meridian Star. "Our thoughts and the pediatrician’s thought was that she had some sort of virus and she would be well soon enough. To be safe, we took her to Jackson and we fully expected to return home the same day or at worst the next day. Little did we know that the day would turn into night at the hospital and around 10:30 p.m., a hematologist came into our room."

    Graves said he thought it was odd for a specialist to come around at that hour, but nothing had prepared them for the news that was to come.

    "We were told that it was almost certain our daughter had leukemia. The grief that overwhelmed us would not let me utter more than a couple of words between sobs until the next day," Graves said. "Before the doctor could leave the room, Renee asked the doctor, 'Are you a Christian?' He said, 'Yes,' and she proceeded to lead us in prayer."

    His wife began calling everyone she could think of to pray for their daughter and they held a prayer meeting the next day before Sophie had her first procedure, a bone marrow extraction, which confirmed the presence of leukemia.

    Graves said the family now has a new normal, which includes chemotherapy, long hospital visits, and long talks with medical staff.

    "Sophia has been responding well to treatment, her likelihood of successful treatment without remission is good, and the effects of chemotherapy have been minimal so far," Graves said. "We have at least two years of treatment ahead and a lifetime of follow up visits."

    Despite the challenges, Graves said he and his family are confident because of their faith in God.

     "Each and every day our Lord, Christ Jesus has given us faith and hope. I have seen His love through His people and I know he is with us," Graves said."This is the one thing that has not changed. More than anything else, we are Christians, and I praise our Lord for His gifts of faith, hope, and love."

    There will be a special blood drive for Sophia on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Lazy Acres Plantation north of Chunky.

    In a press release, Mississippi Blood Services (MBS) said it wants to remind everyone that while modern medicine has made a lot of progress in battling catastrophic diseases there is still no substitute for human blood.

    The MBS Donor Coach will be on site. All donors will receive a T-shirt. Donors can now check their overall cholesterol on their MBSConnect account.

    “When you roll up your sleeve and donate blood you’re helping patients like Sophia,” Susan Ates, MBS PR Specialist, said. “You can make a difference in her life just by donating a little of your time and a unit of your blood.”

    Donors must be at least 17 years old (16 years old with signed parental consent; weigh at least 110 pounds and have a valid ID. For a consent form, go to visit