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Atascadero woman is 3 of 1,000,000 diagnosed with rare condition - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

Atascadero woman is 3 of 1,000,000 diagnosed with rare condition, saved by donated blood

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KSBY's Be a Hero Blood Drive is a chance to give the gift of life; Ashlee Ruvalcaba, of Atascadero, knows that all too well.

"At ten weeks pregnant I started experiencing symptoms of headache, nose bleeds, nausea. I ended up in an urgent care," Ashlee said.

She would eventually be transferred to Stanford University Medical Center where her condition deteriorated. Four days after being admitted, Ashlee was experiencing kidney failure when she was diagnosed with a rare blood disorder, thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura, that only 3 in 1,000,000 people are diagnosed with every year.

"TTP is a blood clotting disorder, so what happened is that I had little blood clots all over my body," said Ashlee.

Doctors had to remove Ashlee's blood, filter some of it, but replace most of it with donated blood to treat her condition.

"Over probably 220 units of blood and that's platelets, plasma and red blood," she explained.

To give you an idea of just how much blood she received, last year's KSBY Be a Hero Blood Drive collected about 160 units of blood, still not enough to have saved her life.

Ashlee now makes it her mission to ensure others know about the importance of donating blood, "because if it wasn't for those I wouldn't be here today."

Sadly, Ashlee and David lost their baby while she underwent treatment, but now that she is in remission they'll try again to create new life after Ashlee was gifted a second chance.

Ashlee hosted five blood drives last year  and she's hosting tomorrow's event in San Luis Obispo. The Be a Hero Blood Drive is happening at KSBY studios in SLO and the United Blood Services in Santa Maria from 2pm-7pm.

All donors will be treated to a BBQ lunch.

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