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Duluth boy’s cancer battle highlights need for blood donations

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DULUTH, MN -- Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, some things have changed and some remain the same. 

While masks and social distancing are new to us, the need for blood donations is not. 

According to Memorial Blood Centers, every one out of three people will need a blood donation in their lifetime, from natural disasters to life-long health battles. 

For 12-year-old Anders Breidenbach of Duluth, donations from the community have given him the strength to take on numerous cancer battles.

Anders hanging out with his sister, Aurora. (Courtesy: CaringBridge)

Anders was born with a gene mutation called RB1, his cells lack a tumor suppressor most of us have.

This means, throughout his life, he is at a greater risk for various types of cancers.

"As a baby, he had retinoblastoma and was in treatment from nine months until he was almost two. He's been used to medical procedures for as long as he can remember," says Anders' mom, Gini.

Anders in 2010. (Courtesy: CaringBridge)

In March, Anders was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a rare type of bone cancer that doctors found in his right femur.

Along with rounds of chemotherapy, Anders' diagnosis recently required surgery to remove a tumor in his leg. With these critical surgeries comes a need for blood donations. 

Anders recovering from his June surgery.
(Courtesy: CaringBridge)

Michele Keil, account manager for Memorial Blood Centers, tells us with more blood drives popping up and new safety precautions in place, the access and opportunity for giving is making a comeback. 

With a tough fight ahead, having community support through body and spirit, can make all the difference in Anders' fight. 

Anders with his mom, dad, sister, and dog.
(Courtesy: CaringBridge)

On Friday, June 26, KBJR 6 and Memorial Blood Centers are teaming up to help save lives in the Northland at Pier B Resort in Duluth.

For more information and to sign up for a time slot, click here.

To learn more about Anders' ongoing fight, click here.

Ryan Haff

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