West Loop school holds blood drive in honor of student diagnosed with Wilms' tumor

CHICAGO (WLS) -- One local girl who relied on blood donations is grateful she can once again be a kid.

Five-year-old Mary Kate Zweidinger was diagnosed with a rare tumor on her kidney. That diagnosis in 2018 led to four surgeries, six rounds of radiation, and more than a dozen blood transfusions.

"She was diagnosed with a Wilms' tumor, which is a tumor on her kidney. The kind is diffuse anaplastic Wilms' tumor, so pretty rare. There's about 50 in the U.S. each year," said Mary Kate's mom, Sarah McNamara.

Mary Kate's school, Frances Xavier Warde, held a blood drive in her honor to show their support.

"As a father of three but also as the Head of Schools here at FXW, it was heartbreaking initially, but I also know what this community does," said Michael Kennedy. "This community rallies around our families and our students, so I knew that they community was going to be there for the family."

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"The school has been really supportive of her the whole time but having a blood drive, to truly give back all the blood she used and to really help fill up all the banks, is just incredible way to honor her," McNamara said.

Everyone from family, friends, classmates and faculty all stepped up to show support.

"Other people donated their blood and it was very nice," Mary Kate said.

"I think that is something that we'll do forever, is continue to give and continue to encourage others to give and say, 'Remember when Mary Kate needed it, someone else out there needs it right now,'" McNamara added.

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Mary Kate is doing well and is cancer free!

Remember there may be someone out there who needs you! You can register right now to donate at this year's ABC7 Great Chicago Blood Drive!

The drive will be held on January 15 and this year we have expanded to four locations! For more information or to make an appointment, CLICK HERE.
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