______________________________________________________Can you tell us a little bit about your specific bleeding disorder and what it took to get diagnosed?
I have an Aggregate Platelet Dysfunction, a rare condition caused by a defiency of a protein on the surface of a platelet, but for years, I had been mis-diagnosed as having vWD. At the age of three, my mom began noticing that something wasn't quite right. I began bruising severely, had excessive bloody noses, as well as bleeding from the mouth and gums and that was when I was diagnosed with vWD. Last year, the doctors started to say that they suspected it wasn't vWD and after three tests, it was confirmed. Last October, I became really sick and was in the hospital for 3 weeks, needing 5 transfusions, and it was then that they finally were able to confirm my disorder.
Congratulations on graduating from high school! The attached video is such a great recognition of all you do for the bleeding disorders community! Can you tell us a little more about the volunteer programs she mentioned in the video?
After coming back from Washington D.C., I really wanted to use my experience as a platform to share with others to raise awareness. I wanted to be a voice at my school for potentially other kids like me who may be silently suffering. I wanted to set an example that despite my condition, I can achieve anything that anyone else can. I organized a school wide Red Tie event and pep rally and spoke at it, I signed up to run a charity 5K, and also participated in the Zoo Walk. I volunteered to do registration at two 5Ks. I volunteered the entire day at the Salsa Challenge and brought a team of friends with me to help. I volunteered at my school to help with the floats and to hand out candy. I volunteered at multiple elementary school events and volunteered at all the homecoming games in the food booths.
My experiences have been beyond positive, working with kids has also been something I have enjoyed doing since I began babysitting at 11. I love all the activities I get to do with them, songs we share, and night time cabin time. Experiences like this have helped to groom me to be the person that I am today.
|Dakota with fellow campers at Camp HONOR 2015|
You have been part of the new Future Leaders program with the AHA, can you tell us a little bit about what it has taught you?
It has definitely taught me not to be ashamed because I may not be like everyone else and to propel me to want to speak and share more with others to educate them on bleeding disorders. I have found a passion that I didn't know I had to be able to open up and speak to others about my testimony, to educate people, and to potentially reach others like me that may not have found their own voice yet, so that they know, that they are not alone in this.
|Dakota and the other Future Leaders in Washington, D.C., for NHF's 2016 Washington Days|
What are your plans now that you’re a high school graduate?
Because I missed so much school due to my hospitalization, it was tough to graduate. Because of this, I missed many deadlines for scholarships and was unable to complete the necessary coursework for a 4 year university, so I am going to be attending a local community college for two years before transferring to New Mexico State to study Forensic Pathology to be a Coroner.