MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — Luca is just like every other 2-year-old boy. He loves to play golf, watch videos on his iPad and play with his Buzz Lightyear toys. However, Luca’s day-to-day is a lot different than most.
Luca was diagnosed with B-cell leukemia six months ago. His mom, Kate Holmes, said it started with what seemed like a bad case of the flu.
“He presented with a high fever,” Holmes said. “The first thing he ever had was a [blood] transfusion.”
For Luca, and for any other patients in need of a transfusion, having blood available is critical. The past several years have been difficult.
The Blood Connection is a nonprofit organization that has been around since 1962. This past year, the company has seen the lowest donor turnout in history.
Mercy Myers, partnerships and media coordinator at The Blood Connection, said she is not sure what is keeping people from donating blood.
“We’re wondering if it’s an education thing,” Myers said. “Maybe after the [COVID] vaccine… people just wanted to live their lives again.”
She said she wished people knew how important their donations can be.
“What is running through your body right now can literally change someone’s life forever,” Myers said. “I know three different families that have children that have gotten blood for their cancer treatments. For some of these children, it’s the difference between life or death.”
Holmes agreed. Donated blood is a critical part of Luca’s fight.
“It’s life-saving,” Holmes said.
While News13 spoke with Holmes, Luca was at the Medical University of South Carolina receiving two chemotherapy treatments. Usually, he is able to come home between treatments, but that is not always the case.
“His longest inpatient [stay] has been about 11 or 12 days at a time,” Holmes said. “Those are tough. Very tough.”
Holmes said that through the treatments and hospital stays, Luca remains in good spirits.
“He’s going in strides,” Holmes said. “Each phase comes with its own set of obstacles.”
He finds moments to enjoy the simple pleasures of life.
“We just had an amazing golf tournament last weekend, and he was out and he was fist-pumping and high-fiving,” Holmes said.
She said that the people that surround her family lift them up.
“I think the most impactful thing is having [the community] reach out to us and say, ‘hey, you’re not alone. We’ve got you. We’ve got Luca,’” Holmes said.
In the midst of a blood shortage, Holmes encourages people to do their research and consider donating.
“I strongly urge anyone who can give blood right now to donate,” Holmes said. “It does not hurt. They are in and out here at The Blood Connection.”
She said one donation impacts families more than people can imagine.
“I hope and pray that no one ever has to go through what we’re going through,” Holmes said. “, If you’re able to [donate], you’re giving life. People like us, families like ours greatly, greatly, greatly appreciate that gift of life.”