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Transfusions Help Patient Approach Life with Renewed Vigor

After a stressful year caring for her sick mother, Silvia started to experience issues with her menstrual cycle in addition to extreme fatigue, lightheadedness and throbbing head pain. Her gynecologist Lelanya Kearns, MD, recommended an outpatient surgical procedure to address Silvia’s menstrual issues, but pre-admission blood tests revealed that she was anemic and needed to raise her iron levels. Silvia was referred to Dr. Elie Richa, certified in hematology, oncology and transfusion medicine to address her low iron levels prior to surgery.

Dr. Richa worked with Silvia to create a plan to manage her anemia long term which included modifying her diet to include more red meat, increasing her level of exercise, and receiving iron transfusions. She immediately began taking iron pills and vitamins in preparation for her surgery.

At the time of her surgery, COVID-19 was beginning to spread along the West Coast; so for post-surgery follow up, Silvia met with Dr. Kearns over a video call to review her results. Silvia was very relieved to find out the surgery was a success, and both wished they could have been together in person to celebrate the good news.

Following her procedure, Silvia received iron transfusions at the El Camino Health’s Cancer Center in Mountain View to continue treating her anemia. To make the treatment process more convenient for her, Silvia’s care team suggested she change her follow up appointments to the Cancer Center’s new location in Los Gatos because it was closer to her home. Silvia was the first patient to receive care at the new center in Los Gatos in late April 2020.

“Everyone was so nice to me. I knew it was the Cancer Center’s first day open and they were getting systems set up and new equipment running, but they were all pampering me,” said Silvia. “Everyone kept asking me if I needed anything. They were so accommodating, and I could tell they were all so excited to be working in this beautiful new space.”

“A medical assistant met me at the entrance to take my temperature and made sure that I had a mask with me,” said Silvia. “Throughout my entire process, they were always very mindful of safety precautions and everyone was wearing a mask and being very cautious of contact. The staff at El Camino Hospital has been very attentive and polite from the beginning, and despite the pandemic, I had a very positive experience.”

Silvia is feeling much better now and as caretaker of her young daughter and father who lives with her, her health is extremely important to her and the people that rely on her. She works full-time at a local company that is responsible for making COVID-19 testing kits and still regularly goes into the laboratory to take care of her job responsibilities.

“Before the iron treatments and procedure, after a long day at work, I would come home and not want to do anything. I was so tired,” shared Silvia. “Now, I come home, make dinner, take care of my dad and still have enough energy to spend time with my daughter.”

Silvia will have several follow up appointments to monitor her iron levels and additional tests to make sure she maintains good health. She plans to introduce more exercise and healthy choices into her diet to help her continue to see improvements in her energy level and maintain her iron levels going forward.