32nd annual Pint for Pint Blood Drive just a few days away

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Twenty-year-old Ryan Garcia is in a better place now. Less then a year ago he was weak, struggling to do day-to-day activities, and thought he had reached the end of the line. In December, the Clovis West graduate was diagnosed with leukemia.

"I noticed I was extremely tired all the time. I would sleep until about three in the afternoon," he said. "My gums were really swollen, you could barely see my teeth, and my mouth was all gums. I had this really nasty sore on my lip," said Garcia.

His body was shutting down. The diagnosis was just as frightening for his mom, Stace Garcia. She saw her son go from an athletic, healthy young man to bedridden.

"To see him with sunken eyes that were dark, and in bed on Christmas morning, it was a pretty traumatic experience," said Stace.

He spent 41 days in the hospital; his body could not heal itself. At one point, it was so bad he suffered an 8-hour nosebleed.

"My platelets were so low that my blood wouldn't clot, so I was just sitting there hunched over a bucket for literally 8 hours, the whole day," said Ryan.

Treatments included blood transfusions and bone marrow transplants. Blood donated was from drives set up by his mom and the Central California Blood Bank. About 30 transfusions later, Ryan says it saved his life.

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"As soon as you can donate, go and do it. I know that needle is always scary, but literally you are saving someone's life," he said.

Starting this Friday, people in the Central Valley have a big opportunity to help those in need. The Pint for Pint Blood Drive is August 2nd and 3rd. Those who donate a pint of blood to the Central California Blood Center get a pint of ice cream in return.

"We have thousands of patients who are in need of blood transfusions right now, that in order to receive it, people need to roll up their sleeves and donate it," said Tatiana Partain with the Central California Blood Center.

And one pint makes a big difference. It has in Ryan's life and so many countless others.

To learn more about the Pint for Pint Blood Drive, click here.
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