SAN DIEGO — The San Diego Blood Bank put out a call Monday for blood donations to help a La Jolla teacher and mother of three in need of a rare blood type for transfusions to fight bone cancer.
Stacie Buechel, 47, needs blood transfusions as part of her treatment, but her situation is complicated because she has a rare blood type. She needs blood from donors who have A+, O- or O+ but also lack a protein called Kpb. Less than 1% of the U.S. population have this type of blood, according to the blood bank.
Buechel’s husband, Rob, said she came home from the hospital Monday morning, but still has to regularly visit several doctors as UC San Diego Health.
“She’s in a critical state right now. She needs blood in order to receive treatment,” close friend Nancy Phillips said. “She knows exactly what’s happening to her, and she wants to live. It’s really hard to watch it and it’s really hard to see what cancer can do.”
Buechel, a Montessori teacher and founder of Essbee Learning Center, has three children under the age of 15. Phillips said Bueschel was pregnant with her youngest, Lena, when she was first diagnosed with cancer nearly a decade ago.
“She was in remission for nine years, and then one day, she ended up in the emergency room at the hospital and being diagnosed with stage four. She had pain in her hip, and other places,” Phillips said.
Phillips moved with Buechel to San Diego from Placerville when the two were just 19. They went to high school together in the El Dorado County town and remain close friends. Phillips describes Buechel as outgoing, fun and a dedicated mother and teacher.
“She’s been a dear friend for a long time. She’s very intelligent, she’s very strong,” Phillips said.
Earlier this month, the Buechels posted an update on a blog they created to keep family and friends informed of her condition.
“The tough part is that I still have not been able to have chemo or immunotherapy because of my anemia,” she wrote. “So, my scans this past week showed some really disturbing growth in my body. I can’t list all the sadness, it has really spread, and the cancer caused another fracture in my T9 of my back. The cancer is growing out towards my spinal cord.
“None of this has been good news. All we can do is pray at this point I get some blood so that I can change my chemo to an oral chemo and take Keytruda,” she wrote, referencing a humanized antibody used in cancer immunotherapy. “It has been a really hard week on me and my family. Without blood, I am going to really struggle to beat this cancer.”
Phillips said without infusions of about a pint of the rare blood per week, it is impossible for Buechel to receive the treatment she needs.
“She knows because of the cancer she has a limited amount of time left,” Phillips said. “She’s hopeful she can find a match and have five more years with her children. She’s strong — stronger than anyone else I know.”
Updates on her fight can be found on the family’s page on the Meal Train website.
Anyone who would like to donate blood in Buechel’s name can visit any San Diego Blood Bank donation location or mobile drive and note the donation code ESSB when registering.
The San Diego Blood Bank is currently antibody testing each blood donation as part of their regular testing panel to qualify donations for COVID- 19 convalescent plasma. This is not a diagnostic test and will not detect active COVID-19 infections or recent exposure.
To be eligible to donate blood, you must be at least 17 years old, weigh at least 114 pounds and be in general good health. Appointments are required and available by visiting sandiegobloodbank.org or by calling 619-400-8251.