11-year-old Sugar Land girl relies on plasma donations for survival

SUGAR LAND, Texas (KTRK) -- 11-year-old Ilma Morales is like most kids her age who enjoy dancing, hanging out with friends, and listening to music.

There is, however, one major difference between Illma and the rest of her family and friends.

"I have hypogammaglobulinemia," said Ilma.

Hypogammaglobulinemia is an immune disorder that prevents Ilma's body from properly fighting infections. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, Ilma couldn't be around many people, had to homeschool during winter months, and took extra precautions to prevent getting sick.

In fact, Illma hasn't attended in-person school in nearly a year.

Patients with this condition can die from common infections, in addition to facing an increased risk for leukemia.

"I try to be brave," said Ilma.

One thing that gives Ilma a relatively-normal lifestyle is the plasma she receives from the Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center. She requires a transfusion every other week, which she administers to herself.

"She requires plasma for her survival," said Ilma's mom, Elizabeth. "In order for her not to get infections so severe that they can take her life."

Ilma says battling hypogammaglobulinemia is challenging, but she considers her ability to deal with the condition a strength. She credits the plasma, her family and friends, and her relationship with God for helping her stay strong.

"If I'm brave enough to stick a needle in myself every other week, then people can be brave enough to come and donate," she said.

ABC13 is hosting its annual blood drive on March 5, and you can click here to get info on scheduling an appointment to help Ilma, as well as others in need.
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