Donations Please, Not Birthday Gifts, Say Two 7-Year-Olds

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Two seven-year-olds from Columbus, Ohio are celebrating their birthdays next weekend. Unlike most 7-year-olds, they're not asking for gifts, though, and asking attendees to support the Sepsis Alliance and Nationwide Children's Hospital. "We already have a lot of stuff," says one of the girls. "Other people don't have as much and need help. So we just wanted to do this for them."

Lucy O'Brien and Ellie Kessinger

We already have a lot of stuff

Columbus, OH For their seventh birthday, friends Lucy O'Brien and Ellie Kessinger of Columbus, Ohio, don't have a very long wish list. They're not asking for Webkinz or American Girl dolls. A surprise visit from Justin Bieber hasn't even made it on the list. Instead, the charming duo is asking guests and their parents to consider making donations to either Sepsis Alliance or Nationwide Children's Hospital.

Why would two almost seven-year-olds choose to forgo party gifts? Last year, Lucy and Ellie were invited to a friend's party where she had requested donations for earthquake victims in Haiti. And this isn't Ellie's first time throwing a birthday party for a cause. Last year, Ellie asked for books to be donated to the hospital instead of people bringing her birthday presents.

This year, the girls - friends for the past two years - decided they would combine their birthday wishes and ask for donations again. "We already have a lot of stuff," says Ellie. "Other people don't have as much and need help. So we just wanted to do this for them."

The girls' parents are proud of their daughters. "Considering Lucy's love of toys and clothes at this age, I was very surprised by her decision but certainly very proud," says Kristen O'Brien, Lucy's mother.

But why these causes? The answer is quite simple, according to Lucy: "Because sepsis is something that makes people very sick and they can even die." Lucy's dad, James O'Brien, Jr., MD, is a board member of Sepsis Alliance and a critical care physician at The Ohio State University Medical Center. Sepsis is the body's toxic response to infection and is sometimes called blood poisoning. Every 2.5 minutes, one person in the United States dies because of sepsis and many more people live with its lasting effects. In addition, sepsis is the second leading cause of death among children in the U.S., after accidents, approximately 4,400.

Lucy and Ellie would love for others to match or beat their donations - and the challenge is open to both children and adults. Visit sepsisalliance.org for more information.

About Sepsis Alliance

Sepsis Alliance is a nonprofit patient advocacy organization in the U.S. promoting awareness of sepsis. Sepsis Alliance operates by providing information and education to raise awareness of sepsis and its devastating effects, So More Survive. Sepsis Alliance also provides support by giving people affected by sepsis a forum to share information. Sepsis Alliance was founded by Dr. Carl Flatley after the loss of his 23-year-old daughter, Erin, to sepsis. Her death in 2002 spurred Dr. Flatley to start an organization that would promote awareness of sepsis to both medical professionals and patients. Sepsis Alliance is registered as a 501(c)(3) charitable organization.

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SCOTT CARR

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