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Local boy with rare disease relies on blood donations to live

Posted at 6:40 PM, Aug 31, 2016

The need for blood hits home for one valley family that relies on blood to keep their son alive.
 
8-year-old Callum Atworth has a rare disease called Diamond Blackfan anemia -- one of about 700 documented cases in the world. It's when a person's bone marrow fails to produce enough red blood cells which carry oxygen to the body's tissues.

At 3 months old, Callum was diagnosed with the disease. Every day Callum fights just to live.

"I don't make my own blood," he said.

Callum survives on half the blood the average person does.

"Every 3 to 4 weeks, he has to get blood to be able to stay alive," said Alyssa Aguayo, Callum's mom.

Unlike most kids his age, Callum can't play football or take part in most sports.

"It is hard for day-to-day tasks because he is running on empty," his mom said.

The medicine Callum takes also causes an iron overload, which has its own side effects -- like hearing loss.

And it's these complications, Aguayo said, that have caused this once spunky little boy to become withdrawn.

When 2nd grade hit, it was the worst experience for Callum, she said.

"Bullying was a big issue, kids making fun of him because of his medicine backpack."
 
This school year, Callum is attending a new school so that he can have a fresh start.

But the real need his mom said boils down to the need for blood.

"Each month I am given my son's life because of blood donors," Aguayo said.

Callum's blood type is A-positive. His mom said because there is often a blood shortage there are weeks Callum has to wait on blood -- his lifeline.

Those interested can donate blood at a local United Blood Services.