Watch CBS News

Teen Organizes Blood Drive To Help Patients Like Her Mom Who Are Battling Cancer

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Every three minutes in this country, someone is diagnosed with a blood cancer. While many are treatable, patients are often left spending hours waiting for blood transfusions.

Now, a local girl is trying to help patients in Pittsburgh wait a little less.

For Donna Latsko, her Pittsburgh Marathon training earlier this year helped her detect acute myeloid leukemia.

"I was running seven miles very easily at the beginning of the year, and then I realized that I was getting very short of breath," Latsko said.

It was Good Friday when she got the diagnosis and started her fight against the blood cancer.

She spent 41 days in the hospital undergoing chemotherapy, which treats the cancer but causes another problem.

"The chemotherapy goes in and kills all my white blood cells and red blood cells, so, so many days after that, I will get blood transfusions and platelet transfusions," Latsko said.

Her daughter, 17-year-old Karina saw her mom many times sitting in the hospital, literally waiting for blood.

"It can take so long for her to get either a blood transfusion or a platelet donation because it has to come from so far away. She's got platelets from as far away as California and Texas," Karina said.

So Karina decided to search locally for donors, organizing a blood drive to not only help her mom, but so many others who are in similar need.

Dr. Mounzer Agha is the director of the UPMC Hillman Cancer Center's Mario Lemieux Center for Blood Cancers. He says treatment can last anywhere from four to six weeks.

"Initial phase would require a minimum of two to eight units of blood and it could be a lot more," said Dr. Agha.

Eight to 10 doses of platelets are also needed, and for Latsko, who needs special HLA platelets, finding enough can be challenging.

Join The Conversation On The KDKA Facebook Page
Stay Up To Date, Follow KDKA On Twitter

The drive next Saturday, Aug. 13, at Revolution Physical Therapy will hopefully ease some of those concerns for the Latsko family and others like them.


"I think this is a fabulous thing. I was so overwhelmed when I saw her with her with her mom this morning, to me it was a beautiful thing," said Dr. Agha.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.