When Joe was only three years old, he started experiencing severe headaches. When the headaches couldn’t be treated, he underwent a CT scan and was later diagnosed with a rare primitive neuroectodermal tumor, a highly malignant tumor composed of small round cells that affect soft tissue and bone. For Joe, this tumor was growing in his brain.
Joe had surgery to remove the large mass in his head and then went through several rounds of radiation treatment that spanned several months. His tiny body continued to fight the cancer as he underwent three cycles of high-dose chemotherapy with a stem cell transplant after each dose. He relied on transfusions of red blood cells and platelets until his stems cells engrafted and began to generate new blood cells.
“Without all of those blood transfusions, there is no way that I could have made it through the chemotherapy,” says Joe, now a healthy young 19-year-old. “Just one blood donor has the ability to help so many people, with one selfless act. I am so grateful to so many people I will never meet.”
Joe is doing great, leading a full life, and thankful for the many blood donors who helped him during his recovery. “Those people saved my life. I want all blood donors to know that what they do does make a difference in patients’ and families’ lives. 100%. They are heroes.”