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Benji G.

Sarasota, Florida

Unfortunately, after a brave battle against leukemia, Benji passed away in 2017. His family has ensured his legacy lives on through regular blood drives and fundraising events. Keep up with the Benjamin Gilkey Fund for Innovative Pediatric Research on Facebook.

Benjamin spent New Year’s Eve of 2014 watching fireworks with his brother through a hospital window. The seven-year-old boy had just been diagnosed with Pre-B Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia and was receiving his first platelet transfusion. Over the next two days, Benji needed three more platelet transfusions to prepare him for the surgery that began three-and-a-half years of treatment. During that surgery, a sample of Benjamin’s bone marrow was collected. It was 97% infected with Leukemia.

Benji I am OneBlood September 2016

Doctors hoped that Benji’s first month of treatment would put him into remission, but unfortunately, a second examination revealed that he still had leukemia cells in his bone marrow. This bumped Benji into the “Very High Risk” category, and into more aggressive treatment. Another phase of medicines was added to his calendar and all his chemotherapy dosages were increased. Finally, on May 1, 2015, a third examination found zero detectable leukemia cells in Benji’s body. He was in remission. His treatment, which had included eleven transfusions so far, was working. 

However, in September, Benji was admitted to the hospital with debilitating stomach pain. His kidneys were in acute failure, and he was suffering severe toxicity from one of his chemotherapy medicines. He looked like a burn victim and needed constant pain medication. He became withdrawn and he did not eat for three weeks. During that time, Benji would receive eight more blood and platelet transfusions. 

Today, Benji is thriving in the third grade and halfway through his long treatment plan. Benji’s family and friends understand the importance of blood donation. They’ve collected nearly 100 units in his honor at blood drives throughout their community.

“We’ll never meet the donors who gave the blood Benji needed to survive. Blood drives allow us to pay it forward. It’s a way for us to say thank you.”
-Benji's mother

Cancer patients are the primary recipients of platelets. For Benji and all those fighting cancer, please donate platelets and register with the National Marrow Donor Program.

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