Fresno teen diagnosed with Leukemia continues mission to help others

FRESNO, Calif.

Parker Fritsch was there chatting with donors at the Save Mart Center as they gave blood. The Leukemia survivor is the inspiration behind the event. Parker who is now 14-years-old was diagnosed with Leukemia in July 2002.

He beat the disease in 2006, after undergoing a life-saving bone marrow transplant.

"My secret was to just stay strong through it," Fritsch said. "That's how life went; there's something you don't want to do, but you still have to do them."

During his battle with the disease, Fritsch needed many blood transfusions and holding the blood drive was a way for the family to give back.

"It actually feels pretty amazing," Fritsch said. "After I had cancer that I was able to give me blood that I needed it was kind of cool that I could give back to them."

Blood Center officials say they collected nearly 500 pints of blood during Tuesday's Blood Drive.

Chris Sorensen, the Director of Community Relations and Development for the Blood Center, says since the annual one-day drive started, the blood center has collected more than 2,000 pints of blood which can save up to 6,000 lives.

The event has also put hundreds of people on the marrow registry.

"I never thought it would be that huge of a hit but that's pretty amazing," Fritsch said.

The Central California Blood Center serves 31 hospitals in five counties. They hold more than 1,000 remote blood drives a year. The Parker's Pals Blood Drive is one of their largest.

It also happens during the winter when blood donations are traditionally down. This year is no different.

"It's very important to us especially this time of the year," Sorensen said. "A lot of folks aren't feeling well and our regular donors can't come in, plus folks in the hospital need those pints of blood to go home and spend time with their families so it's a perfect blood drive at a perfect time."

Fritsch says he's now fighting new illnesses that stemmed from his fight with Leukemia. But he still paints and looks forward to golf season. He says he's planning to go to college and study bio-engineering so he can fight cancer in a different way.

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