MEET JAKE CARLINO 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.
An MRI showed a large mass on Jacob’s sacral (hip) bone. Although early test results showed no cancer cells, after several tissue biopsies oncologists determined that Jacob actually had something called Ewing’s Sarcoma—a cancer that primarily attacks bones and soft tissue. The cancer cells had not spread to Jacob’s lungs or bones, but were contained in his lower hip and upper leg area.
Less than one week after his diagnosis, Jacob began a 30-week chemotherapy regimen. By the halfway point and after several blood and platelet transfusions, the mass had shrunk by 40 percent. He then had surgery to remove the tumor and half of his sacral bone.
Jacob and his family were told the six-hour procedure would remove the mass, but that he would most likely never be able to run again. Part of his recovery included wearing a lower body brace and refraining from walking for three months. At that point, he began physical therapy and learned to walk again.
After the surgery, Jacob continued chemo for another 15 weeks. His treatment included lifesaving blood and platelet transfusions during this time, and Jacob’s mom lost track of just how many he needed.
“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,” said Traci, Jacob’s mom. “Without the blood, Jake wouldn’t be here today.”
Jacob is now 15 years old and cancer free. Thanks to a lot of hard work and amazing care by health care staff, he’s not only able to walk, but can also run. As one payback for his second chance at life, Jacob organized and hosted a 5K run this year in hopes of raising money for pediatric cancer research.
In addition, the Carlino family is proud to help raise awareness about the ongoing need for blood and platelets. They want to thank those who donated so these products were available when Jacob needed them, and they encourage others to donate because they know firsthand that rolling up a sleeve can truly make a difference.
PLATELET DONORS NEEDED Platelets are the clotting factor in blood; they help prevent excess bleeding. Cancer patients undergoing surgeries and premature infants often need this specific blood product. Platelets have a short shelf life from donation to transfusion—only five days. As summer gets underway, it’s important that eligible platelet donors give frequently to help ensure this potentially lifesaving blood product is available for patients whenever and wherever needed.
HOW TO GIVE For more information about donating blood, or to make an appointment to donate blood or platelets, please visit redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). Individuals who are at least 17 years of age (16 with parental consent in some states), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.