BILLINGS — A group of Billings moms know just how important blood can be. They’re each mothers of children battling cancer who have been helped immeasurably by blood transfusions.
Since September is National Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month, the group figured it was their time to call attention to this crucial lifeline by holding a virtual blood drive in partnership with Vitalant in Billings.
"I’ve never given blood in my life," said Ashlee Voller. "I've been always ‘too busy,’ or scared of needles. But this is my reason."
That reason is Voller’s son, Tristan. He was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia on Sept. 7, 2021.
"To say the last year has been life changing is not even touching it," Voller said.
But what she continues to come back to is the generosity of her community.
"People have shown up for us time and time again," she said. "It has shown us to just be better."
It’s hard to tell that Lauchlan Mraz was also diagnosed with ALL in February 2021. The constant smile and head full of curly hair are stark contrasts to what life was like a year ago.
"She lost all of her hair," said McKenzie Mraz, Lauchlan's mom.
"And my eyebrows!" Lauchlan interjected.
"And her eyebrows," McKenzie added. "She had to get several units of blood and platelets, which is why what we’re doing this month is so important."
Leukemia is a blood cancer, so the most effective treatment is basically replacing infected blood cells with healthy ones.
"Throughout Tristan’s last 12 months, he received seven different infusions of either blood or platelets," Voller said. "And it's pretty safe to say that those saved his life."
"The improvement after a simple blood transfusion is huge," Mraz added. "The color comes back to their face. They're a lot more perky, less lethargic."
You can access the blood drive here and pledge your donation. It’s badly needed.
"A lot of people don’t realize even within their own community how prevalent childhood cancer is," Mraz said. "And only 4% percent of proceeds from any research actually goes to childhood cancer."
So every pint makes a difference.