'We need donors': Nurse shares importance of blood donations after battling leukemia as a child

The Red Cross says Illinois' blood supply is so critically low, hospitals have been forced to cancel surgeries
CHICAGO (WLS) -- The supply of blood in Illinois is critically low right now. It's so low, that the Red Cross said hospitals have been forced to cancel surgeries.

But donors can help multiple patients, even the smallest Chicagoans, by rolling up their sleeves.

Sometimes the tiniest patients need the biggest forms of support. And it's nurses, like Lucas Wesoloski, who know firsthand the struggles children at Lurie Children's Hospital face.

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"Our patients need blood transfusions daily," Wesoloski said, who has been a blood donation recipient himself.

Wesoloski said his patients are fighting off diseases, like cancer and a multitude of blood disorders.

"It is draining, to say the least. Emotionally, physically," Wesoloski said.

He said blood transfusions often can give them the strength they need to fight.

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"It's not something that is a luxury, it's a need," he said. "It's something that our patients need to make it through their treatment."

The 25-year-old was diagnosed with leukemia as a child and knows firsthand how important blood donations are.

"That shook my whole family," Wesoloski recalled.

He said transfusions played a huge role in his successful treatment.

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"Blood products, if you're on a shortage, it's not like you can go find some magic supplier. You can't produce that on a whim. We need donors," Wesoloski said.

But, with a critical blood shortage right now, there's concern about what happens if donors don't answer the call for help.

"Our patients are begging them from their hospital rooms to go out and donate," he said.

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Wesoloski has been in remission for many years now and is now caring for children who are living the same reality he once lived.

If you'd like to donate, you can sign up for the Great Chicago Blood Drive that will be held next Tuesday and Wednesday at multiple locations.

Make an appointment to give blood as soon as possible by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).
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