By Dante Miller
CHARLOTTE – Seven-year-old Liam Flynn was diagnosed with Burkitt lymphoma when he was having trouble walking back in October.
After six rounds of chemotherapy and plenty of time in the hospital, Liam is no longer showing any signs of disease and will continue to have his scans every three months for at least 18 months.
Liam’s father, Shawn, wanted to show his appreciation to the blood donors who helped save his son’s life. He donated blood alongside Liam during his last round of chemotherapy.
“I’ve always donated blood when I can,” Shawn said, “We were in the hospital for a long time, so I kept asking, ‘Can I donate?’”
After sharing a photo of his blood donation on Facebook, family friend Erin Doyle reached out to Liam’s mother, Stephanie, and was shocked to learn how much blood cancer patients needed. After this realization, Doyle reached out to parents and faculty of St. Gabriel Catholic to host a blood drive at the school on April 11 in honor of Liam.
“Cancer is something we are not familiar with,” Stephanie said. “We were not familiar with the different treatments, and we didn’t anticipate that he would need a blood transfusion.”
Cancer patients are the number one recipients of blood transfusions, according to the Community Blood Center of the Carolinas.
“One hour of your time will save up to three lives,” Communications Coordinator Jessica Jankowski said. “Locally, we have seen a 15 percent increase in demand for blood since last year. People don’t donate because they have never had an invitation to. Many people don’t realize that they can be helping a family member, neighbor or a child like Liam.”
After every round of treatment, Liam received blood or platelets.
“He ended up with eight transfusions,” Shawn said. “That was critically important to keeping him out of the hospital and getting his numbers back up.”
After being pricked or ‘poked’ with needles during his treatment, Liam was happy to see his father getting poked with a needle, too.
“I wanted daddy to get me to go home, and I wanted daddy to get poked” Liam said. “I hated all the medicines because it made me feel bad.”
Liam was treated at Hemby Children’s Hospital. His parents said the treatments and care the doctors provided was great.
Liam returned to school April 9
“He had a half day. When the day was over, he said he wanted to stay longer,” Shawn said. “He started playing soccer again. That was a big step for us because six months ago he could barely walk.”
“It’s taking him a while to get his strength back to where it used to be,” Stephanie said. “But he’s very active, and we see a lot of his personality come back that we haven’t seen in a very long time.”
Liam enjoys playing soccer, playing with his Legos, trampolining with his big brother, Aidan, and watching “Power Rangers.”
Want to donate blood?
For more information about hosting a blood drive or donating blood, visit www.cbcc.us or call 888-59BLOOD
If you can’t donate blood, you can also give toys and food to local hospitals.