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Blood drive in Geneseo Saturday for little girl with neurological disorder

GENESEO, Illinois-- A four-year-old girl, fighting a neurological disorder, is asking the Geneseo community for help. And anybody can do that by taking less than an hour to donate blood.

Layla O'Bryant is like any four-year-old. She loves to play, climb and make new friends.

She, her mom Molly, dad Patrick, and sister Tessa are visiting family in Geneseo this weekend. They flew all the way from Las Vegas for a blood drive on Saturday.

Layla suffers from post viral acute cerebellar axtia.

"She picked up the common cold," Molly says. "That's all she had. Her body just reacted to it weird."

Just shy of her third birthday, Layla was unable to walk, crawl or sit without shaking anymore. Molly says her body essentially started to attack her brain. Layla lost control of her limbs and emotions. She fell upwards of 20 times a day, making it unsafe to go out and about often.

Molly says post-viral acute cerebellar axtia isn't a rare disease. It's something children often recover from quickly. But Layla didn't.

"It was hard to watch," Molly says. "It was scary, and we relied heavily on the doctors to guide us through it but they didn't really know or have any information about when the recovery would come or if it would."

Finally, late last year, the O'Bryants found a solution. IVIG, a treatment that uses antibodies from blood donations. Doctors aren't entirely sure why it works, but it's made a world of difference. Layla can run again without the fear of falling.

"She's able to be quote-unquote a normal four-year-old little girl that plays and runs and jumps," Molly says.

Recently, Layla started having side effects from her treatment. The doctors explained there's a nationwide shortage of IVIG because of a blood shortage. They had to switch treatment brands for Layla, causing side effects.

"So when the blood supply drops during the summer, and we don't see as many donors as we'd like, we have to do more to make sure we have a steady supply for our local hospitals," Kirby Winn with the Mississippi Valley Blood Center says.

That's why the O'Bryants are having a blood drive in Geneseo on Saturday. It goes from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Geneseo Community Center.

"To see (Layla) playing out here warms my heart and makes me really happy," Molly says.

Molly says blood drives help ensure everyone, including Layla, get the treatments they need.

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