Mary Kate Zweidinger was diagnosed in August of 2018 with Anaplastic Wilms Tumor. Mary Kate went through surgeries, radiation, chemotherapy and blood transfusions during her 9 months of treatment at Lurie Children’s Hospital. As of May 2019, her family is happy to report she is now cancer free! And they say how grateful they are for the outpouring of support from their community during such a tough time that included many blood transfusions.
Mary Kate attends the Frances Xavier Warde school in Chicago. At Old St. Patrick’s church, the American Red Cross has hosted multiple blood drives with the school to honor Mary Kate.
Community members and parents from the school were eager to donate and raise awareness about Mary Kate. Her teacher, Nikki Bowman, helped her students understand the importance of blood donation to those who need it like Mary Kate.
“Mary Kate, throughout her treatment, needed several blood transfusions almost weekly. When we were thinking about what we could do to give back and what we could do to show our support for her we thought hosting a blood drive a good idea because we taught our preschool students about the lifesaving importance of giving blood,” Bowman said.
The need for blood is constant and right now, the Red Cross has a critical shortage of type O blood and urges those donors and donors of all types to give blood. By giving blood, donors can play a diret role in helping cancer patients recieve the lifesaving treatments needed to kick cancer just like Mary Kate!
Blood is also needed for accident and burn victims, heart surgery and organ transplant patients.
In addition to benefitting those who need blood by having the drive, Mary Kate’s class made t-shirts with all proceeds towards Lurie Children’s Hospital.
Mary Kate’s entire family including her two sisters attended the drive as well as the Head of School at Frances Xavier Warde, Michael Kennedy and Celena Roldan, CEO of the American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois.
Many parents and supportive community members donated blood at the drive on May 28 and hope to make giving blood a part of their regular routine.
Make your appointment to donate blood at an upcoming drive by going to www.redcrossblood.org. Each donated unit of blood can help save up to three lives!
Written by Red Cross communications intern Eric Rzeszutko