Scarlett Grace Wecks is turning 1, and her parents are planning a birthday party.
To celebrate her life, Newark natives Chris and Brandi Wecks are hosting a blood drive on Oct. 22 for their daughter, who has been in and out of the hospital for more than 100 days since January.
Born on Oct. 16, Scarlett hit developmental milestones until she turned two months. That’s when what seemed to be a harmless, small bruise on her forehead ended up being much more.
The tiny mark above her left eye was caused by a large brain tumor, approximately 5 inches long and 3.5 inches wide. It was a tumor she had been born with.
The official name of her condition: congenital glioblastoma multiforme.
The Wecks family was told three days before Christmas that Scarlett only had a 1 in 6 million chance to survive and that the sole option was hospice care.
They took Scarlett home, but not for long. After the New Year, they sought a second opinion and learned that surgery was an option.
Scarlett underwent a 12-hour surgery on Jan. 5 that removed 75 percent of the tumor. Nine days later, the rest of the tumor was removed in a second 12-hour surgery.
Brandi Wecks recalled the uneasy emotions that filled the entire waiting room during her daughter’s procedures.
“As soon as that phone would ring, the entire room would go silent, and all they would say is ‘Everything is fine,’” Brandi Wecks said.
Since then, Scarlett has been through six additional surgeries and has spent most of her holidays in the hospital.
Her first round of chemotherapy was Valentine’s Day — the same holiday on which her Brandi Wecks learned she was pregnant a year earlier.
“It was very symbolic for me… a bit traumatic,” she said.
Scarlett has also gone through numerous blood transfusions, which is why her parents hope to get up to 100 people to make a commitment to donate blood next month.
“She’s gotten a ton of blood and was getting weekly transfusions,” Brandi Wecks said. “We wanted to give back a little bit.”
You can sign up to donate during Scarlett’s 1st Birthday Blood Drive.
Staffed by the Stanford Blood Center, the event will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at , 35450 Newark Blvd. Drop-ins are accepted, but scheduling an appointment is encouraged. Click here to schedule an appointment.
Scarlett still receives chemo, administered at home by her parents. Though she has some developmental delays, she is healthy and quickly smiles to gentle hellos.
While it was never Brandi Wecks’ plans to be a stay-at-home mom, the mother of the bright, blue-eyed baby said her devotion is to Scarlett’s health.
“You learn right away what your priorities are and we want to make the best of the worst situation,” she said. “We want her to be happy.”
To learn more about Scarlett’s story, click here to read Starring Scarlett, a blog written by Brandi Wecks.