Morstead urges Who Dats to donate blood on Friday, help young local girl battling leukemia

Thirteen-year-old Madison "Madi" Adams, who is battling acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), visits with New Orleans Saints punter and kickoff specialist Thomas Morstead in her hospital room on September 17, 2013.

Thirteen-year-old Madison “Madi” Adams, who is battling acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), visits with New Orleans Saints punter and kickoff specialist Thomas Morstead in her hospital room on September 17, 2013.

Saints punter Thomas Morstead plans to donate blood Friday to a local girl who’s been battling leukemia since the summer, but his alone won’t be enough.

So the one-time Pro Bowler is urging Saints fans to head to Betsy’s Pancake House at 2542 Canal St. in Mid-City New Orleans between 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Friday to give blood of any type to The Blood Center’s Bloodmobile, all of which will benefit 13-year-old Madison “Madi” Adams of Covington, whom Morstead befriended last year.

“Anybody that wants to make a great gift — that’s the gift of life for her,” Morstead said Wednesday night during the Pelicans-Knicks basketball game at the Smoothie King Center. “And she’s going to need it.”

Madi was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in July, and she’s needed more than 30 blood transfusions while undergoing intense chemotherapy, according to her family. She began a second phase of treatment at Children’s Hospital on Feb. 1, and it will require her to submit to chemo 18 consecutive days each month for four months. The plan is for her to then take daily doses of chemo that get smaller each day for two years.

The Blood Center is Children’s Hospital’s blood provider, and any donations Friday will help Madi with her treatment. Though Type O negative is especially sought, any kind of blood is welcome because Madi is what’s known as a universal receiver, Morstead said.

The goal is 25 donations, according to New Orleans firefighter Gino Ascani, who is a friend of Madi’s family, was one of the blood drive’s organizers and is one of the girl’s hardest-working supporters.

Ascani is also a personal trainer. Among his clients and friends are Lauren Morstead and her husband, Thomas. Ascani introduced Morstead to Madi when she was at the hospital in the fall.

Morstead took an interest in helping Madi in part because he runs an initiative named “What You Give Will Grow,” one of whose main missions is raising funds for cancer patients. Morstead is passionate about aiding such patients because his mother survived a breast cancer diagnosis when he was younger, and last year he helped raise nearly $30,000 for Madi, who nonetheless has not yet vanquished her illness.

“She said the other day she’s sick of being sick,” Morstead said of Madi, whose hobbies range from firing guns to participating in beauty pageants. “But … when you see her you never know. She’s always doing good, and has a great attitude about life, and she’s not feeling sorry for herself.”

Blood donors must be at least 17 years old and in good health, and they must weigh a minimum of 110 pounds. Sixteen-year-olds weighing at least 130 pounds can donate with a signed parental consent form, a copy of which is available at http://www.thebloodcenter.org/files/chairperson/3.pdf. For more information about donor eligibility, visit www.thebloodcenter.org.

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