First birthday party with a difference

Gemma and Tom Barrett and Amie and Rhys Hedges with Australian Red Cross Blood Service's Tiffany Gourlay.
Gemma and Tom Barrett and Amie and Rhys Hedges with Australian Red Cross Blood Service's Tiffany Gourlay.

IT had cake, party hats and a superhero theme but that’s where the similarities between a regular first birthday party and the one for Tom Barrett and Rhys Hedges ended.

Tom and Rhys were born just three days apart at Joondalup Health Campus last year.

Both had the inherited blood condition spherocytosis, a coincidence that surprised staff given only one in 5000 people have the disorder.

Because of their condition they have received multiple blood transfusions, prompting their mums Gemma Barrett and Amie Hedges to plan a joint first birthday party with a difference.

“We really wanted to mark the lifesaving treatments our boys have received in their first year and give back somehow,” Ms Barrett said.

“We invited family and friends to the Edgewater Blood Donor Centre and asked for their blood instead of birthday presents.”

“The response was overwhelming with more than 30 people booked to donate across the afternoon on Sunday.”

Ms Hedges said the superhero party theme was an easy choice.

“Tom and Rhys have been little heroes in the first year of their lives, but we also wanted to acknowledge the heroics of Australia’s blood donors and the Australian Red Cross Blood Service staff whose efforts have saved our sons’ lives,” she said.

Spherocytosis causes red blood cells to take on the shape of a ball, rather than the regular doughnut shape, which makes the cells fragile.

This fragility means the red blood cells can break down, causing anaemia.

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