Blood donors help save local boy - Jacob's story
Seventh grade is a time for basketball and baseball games, dirt-biking and video games, but Jacob Carlino, had to take a break from those fun activities when he developed a strong pain in his lower back and upper right leg. But with many possible causes, an MRI finally showed a large mass on Jacob’s sacral (hip) bone.
Early test results showed no cancer cells, but after several tissue biopsies Nationwide Children’s Hospital oncologists determined that it was Ewing’s Sarcoma, a cancer that primarily attacks bones and soft tissue. The optimistic news was that the cancer cells had not spread to Jacob’s lungs or bones, but rather contained in the lower hip and upper leg area.
Facing his fear of needles, Jacob’s doctors started a 30-week Chemotherapy regimen less than one week after he was told he has cancer. At the 15-week mark, after several blood and platelet transfusions, the mass had shrunk by 40 percent which meant a choice was to be made: surgery or radiation. Jacob and his family weighed the options — surgery meant a long, painful recovery but radiation could mean a higher recurrence risk and other negative side effects.
With the facts in mind, Jacob chose to face his fear of needles again and proceed with surgery to remove the tumor and half of his sacral bone. He underwent this surgery called a hemipelvectory and his doctor told him he is the youngest patient to ever have this surgery. The six-hour surgery would remove the mass, but Jacob would most likely never be able to run again. Recovery included a lower body brace, no walking for three months and physical therapy to learn how to walk again.
After the surgery, Jacob continued Chemo for 15 more weeks in order to rid him of the cancer. At this point, after more than 40 blood and platelet transfusions, Jacob’s mom couldn’t keep count of how many he had received.
“I can’t imagine what would have happened if the blood wasn’t there – well I can, but I didn’t want to imagine that. Without the blood, Jake wouldn’t be here today,” said Traci, Jacob’s mom.
Today, Jacob is cancer free but will continue to be monitored. His family is thankful for those who donated blood for Jacob and encourage others to give blood because it can make a difference for someone else.
Every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs a blood transfusion. You can help by giving blood.
Find a blood drive near you:
Click the donation appointment button above or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767)
© 2012 The American National Red Cross 01/12AP011