In 2011, Maya Collins, an 8-year-old from Mason, OH, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). During her 6 ½ year battle, she relapsed twice, endured three bone marrow transplants, and received many life sustaining blood and platelet transfusions.
“When she was diagnosed, the cancer was crowding out her normal cells; when she began treatment, the chemo destroyed her healthy cells, as well as the cancerous cells, so the blood and platelet transfusions kept her alive," Bonnie recalled. "Maya received blood as soon as she was diagnosed, and continued to receive transfusions on a regular basis."
Cancer wasn't the only thing that Maya had to battle--during the course of her treatment, she developed myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), which meant that her marrow had essentially gone into failure and stopped producing healthy cells. Regular transfusions were necessary then, as well, to serve "as a bridge until she received a transplant of a healthy marrow that was able to produce healthy cells," Bonnie explained.
Unfortunately, Maya went on to receive two additional transplants, as the cancer was relentless. After her third and final transplant, her marrow was suppressed and she continued receiving life-saving blood and platelet transfusions to keep her alive.
In October 2017, Maya suffered from an infection and complications of her treatments and passed away at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
“We are so grateful to all of the incredibly selfless blood and platelet donors. Because of these amazing strangers, we were able to create precious memories with our girl. We are so grateful.”
The need for blood products is real and constant, Bonnie said, and patients like Maya rely on the generosity and commitment of regular donors for their treatment.
"Potential shortages of platelets were a genuinely scary thought for our family, because Maya needed those precious platelets to survive," Bonnie says. "Platelet donors should PLEASE donate as often as possible, as they will most certainly be saving a life!"
And as for those donors who already make a point to give, Bonnie is “grateful beyond words.”
In Maya’s honor, Bonnie has established the Live Like Maya Foundation, with the mission to fund better treatment options and cures for pediatric cancer and to help families financially who are dealing with the devastating diagnosis of pediatric cancer. Bonnie also hosts annual blood drives on Maya’s birthday, September 12th. For more information about the foundation, Maya and their mission, please visit: www.LiveLikeMaya.org.