Boy with Rare Disease Inspires Donations of Blood and Kids' Band-Aids

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A Blood Transfusion, and a Colorful Kid's Band-Aid

It may sound trivial, but for those kids receiving blood transfusions or chemotherapy treatments, the choice of Band-Aid can go a long way, Gorman said.

"I see kids next to Liam getting chemotherapy or a 52-syllable medication, so to just put the kid in the room and have a mountain of Band-Aids in front of them and say, 'Pick one out.' It gives the kid some sense of control," said Gorman. "They can pick something out that fits their personalities and it puts a smile on their faces."

Gorman said that Brooklyn Hospital should be all set with colorful Band-Aids for a while. But Liam and his father plan to continue their campaign.

On February 9, Liam's elementary school, Countrywood Primary Center in Huntington Station, N.Y., will hold a blood, bone marrow and Band-Aid drive. This time, Gorman will send the donations to Cohen Children's Medical Center of New York.

"Once they're all set, we'll find another pediatrics department that needs them," said Gorman. "We'll do it one drive at a time."

Along with the Band-Aids, Gorman holds blood drives in honor of Liam every 6 to 9 months.

"It's not that the blood is going just to him, it's just to raise awareness that blood product is needed," said Gorman. "The drive says, here's a reason to take an hour out of your day every two months or so."

Leslie Gonzalez, a spokesperson for New York Blood Center, said that Liam is a perfect example on why to give blood: it literally saves lives.

"Blood donation is volunteer," said Gonzalez. "But the only resource in getting blood is if people volunteer to give blood."

That's when blood drives that honor specific individuals help to raise awareness of blood donation as a whole.

A Blood Transfusion, and a Colorful Kid's Band-Aid

"When there is someone that people know who needs the blood, there is always a strong motivation [for people to donate]," said Gonzalez. "We have many, many children just like Liam, and other people of all ages, who need blood. When you give blood, you're essentially saving a life."

Between blood transfusions, Gorman said that Liam is as normal as the next 6-year-old. He loves dinosaurs, and plans to be a paleontologist when he grows up.

"Once he hears the name of a new dinosaur for the first time, he spews it out like a college professor," Gorman said.

But Liam's disease is very serious, and he depends on others' blood in order to survive. Mary Dunkle, spokeswoman for the National Organization for Rare Diseases, said blood drives and fundraisers and charity events are more than just civic exercises.

"One of the most serious problems that people with a rare disease have is that there is too little or no research being done," said Dunkle. "If you get the word out there, you never know where it's going to lead, whether it will lead to a new treatment or a cure."

There are currently around 6,800 registered rare diseases, but only about 200 have FDA-approved treatments, Dunkle said.

"Liam's just an awesome kid," said Gorman. "He's tough as nails."

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