Fifteen-year-old Carly Rose Nieves is turning ordinary people into heroes, one pint of blood at a time.
For the second year in a row, the Middle Village teen — and her team of family members and friends — organized a blood drive and bone marrow registry at Christ the King (CTK) Regional High School.
The December 17 event brought in 75 pints of blood and 10 new bone marrow donors for the New York Blood Center.
“The lowest time for blood supply is the winter and holiday season,” mom Lisa Horner said.
Although this year’s drive brought in fewer pints than the previous year, Team Carly kept their heads up.
“I was kind of disappointed,” Lisa said. “But if we didn’t have the blood drive, there would have been 75 fewer pints.”
Last year, they collected 200 pints of blood, registered 54 people to be bone marrow donors and raised $3,000 for Friends of Karen — an organization that supports critically ill children and their families.
“I’m happy we got what we did,” said Lisa. “We were really expecting what we had last year, but it’s okay. I just wish it was more. I’m trying not to let it get me down.”
Carly has been battling Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) — a cancer of the white blood cells that normally fight infections — since she was seven.
She received blood transfusions and underwent two years of intensive chemotherapy. Then, at age 12, she suffered a relapse of ALL after three years. The relapse placed Carly in the high-risk category, which requires additional intensive, high-dose chemotherapy.
Now, Carly — who regrew a full head of hair following the chemo — is out of treatment and in remission. And after being out of school for three years, Carly is back as a freshman at CTK and she is “loving every minute of it.”
But she has not forgotten her mission — or the friends she has made in the hospital who are still suffering.
“Carly was just wondering where everybody was,” Lisa said of the lower turnout. “I was trying to be positive about it and just make her understand it’s more than what we had to start off with.”
Just like the resilient spirit of their soon to be 16-year-old daughter, Lisa and her family will keep pushing through with more blood drives and bone marrow registries.
“It’s a good thing and people don’t have to be afraid of it,” said Lisa. “I’ll just keep getting the word out.”
For more information about becoming a marrow donor, call 1-800-MARROW-2. It’s a simple process that takes just a few minutes of paperwork and a cheek swab. And to learn more about donating blood or organizing a blood drive, email firstname.lastname@example.org.