Valley cancer survivor reminding public of importance of donating blood

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Parker Fritsch doesn't know Rocky Reyes but feels a bond with the Buchanan High senior after he was told by doctors he had leukemia.

Parker is a cancer survivor -- he received a similar diagnosis to Rocky's when he was just a toddler.

Now 23 years old and a Fresno State graduate, Parker says he's paying it forward by lending his support to the Reyes family during this challenging time.

"Whenever someone is recently diagnosed with cancer, they're always going to have a lot of questions," he said. "They're always going to be in that state of shock for a little bit, so I've told the family if you have questions, contact me."

Rocky, a two-sport athlete at Buchanan High, learned he had leukemia on his 18th birthday.

The diagnosis meant he would miss the chance to take the graduation stage Tuesday night while he prepares for chemotherapy.

"A teenager is by far one of the most challenging patients to mentor just because they're missing out on a lot of things the general population gets to have," Parker said.

A nationwide blood shortage is complicating Rocky's journey.

Valley Children's Hospital is in desperate need of blood donations for its cancer patients.

"Especially when someone in our community is impacted like this, there's Rocky Reyes' everyday that we can help save," says Gordon Halstead with the Central California Blood Center. "All you have to do is spend an hour with us, you can donate some blood or platelets and it's off to the hospital to save some lives."

The next blood drive in Rocky's honor will take place this Friday.

Nemesis Sports Academy, where Rocky has trained for the past four years, will be hosting while donors can go to any Central California Blood Center location as well

"For a lot of viewers that don't know, one pint of blood is able to separate out into three different units, platelets, white blood cells and red blood cells products," Parker said. "So donating one pint, we're able to save up to three lives."

The Central California Blood Center had 90 units donated in just three hours during a friends and family blood drive last week.

Parker will be continuing his education at Georgetown in the fall.
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