Pediatric cancer survivors share their stories of how blood donations helped them during cancer treatment

KSBY partners with Vitalant for the 17th Annual Be a Hero Blood Drive on Wednesday, August 25 at Vitalant’s San Luis Obispo and Santa Maria locations from 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM

Donating blood is not only an easy way to give back to your community, but it can also save lives. That’s what it did for two kids on the Central Coast who couldn’t continue their chemotherapy treatment without blood donations during their years-long battle with cancer.

From the outside, Annie Blake and Mateo Cota, both nine years old, look like regular elementary school kids. They like to be outside, have fun with friends and play sports.

“I like just running around, going out and doing physical things,” Annie said.

But the road to these points was not easy for either of them.

In 2013, Mateo was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia 11 days before his second birthday.

“When he was first diagnosed, he had severe anemia,” said Erika Cota, Mateo’s mother. “In order for him to continue on treatment, he needed those life-saving doses or he couldn’t even start treatment.”

Mateo’s health relied on blood donations, and he would continue to receive them well into 2019, when he received a bone marrow transplant.

“My husband and I were talking about how many transfusions he’d had and we couldn’t even come close to the number, I mean, there were several,” Erika said.

“It was a bit difficult because I couldn’t do a lot of things, but after that I felt better,” said Mateo.

Like Mateo, Annie also needed life-saving blood donations.

“I’ve had multiple blood transfusions during my treatment,” Annie said.

Annie was diagnosed with leukemia in October 2015. To begin her treatment, she needed multiple blood and platelet transfusions.

“I had at least four before I could start my treatment,” Annie said.

The donations would help her through two and a half years of treatment and ultimately lead her to a healthy, energetic lifestyle
that she is alive today.

“I feel healthy and want to do more every day,” Annie said.

Just like Mateo.

“It’s better if I’m not in the hospital.”

According to Vitalant, a minimum of 250 units of blood is needed daily on the central coast.

Click here to learn more about how to sign up for KSBY’s Be a Hero Blood Drive.

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