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Sioux Falls schools sponsor blood drives in honor of Baby Lucas

Published: Jan. 25, 2021 at 5:21 PM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - The Sioux Falls community is rallying support for a local second-grade teacher and her family. In November, they welcomed a baby boy into the world and found out he has a rare blood disorder.

Baby Lucas is almost three months old.

“He brings me so much joy. He’s the light of my life. Being a first-time mom, I never knew that you could love someone so much,” said Rebecca Zangara, Lucas’s Mom and Second Grade Teacher at Eugene Field Elementary.

Already Lucas’s life has been quite the journey.

“He was extremely anemic, and he was in heart failure and respiratory failure,” said Zangara.

Doctors diagnosed Lucas with Diamond-Blackfan Anemia or DBA. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, DBA is a rare blood disorder in which bone marrow does not make enough red blood cell to carry oxygen throughout the body.

“It was kind of a shock to process that this is what our son has, but then also a shock to process that I have the same thing and what does that look like for our future,” said Zangara.

While Zangara also has DBA, she says she hasn’t experienced any symptoms and is considered in remission. It’s something she hopes will happen with Lucas someday.

Because of DBA, Lucas was born without a right thumb. He will also likely need blood transfusions for the rest of his life, unless other treatments options end up working for him.

“He is currently getting a blood transfusion every nine to ten days,” said Zangara.

The new parents have been keeping friends and coworkers updated on Lucas’s journey.

“I had just asked in one of my posts if you’re able to ever donate blood please donate blood because without it Lucas would not be able to survive. And my coworkers at my school kind of took that to heart,” said Zangara.

Staff at Eugene Field Elementary are sponsoring a blood replenishing drive at the school in Lucas’s honor, to support him and others in the community who need blood regularly.

“People don’t realize that even infants are using blood on a regular basis. Nearly about 13 percent of the blood that we have in the community goes to helping premature babies and babies with blood disorders,” said Ken Versteeg, Executive Director of the Community Blood Bank.

The idea has caused a ripple effect with other local elementary schools also holding blood drives.

“It has been absolutely amazing, very heartwarming...To be involved with a community that cares so much and is willing to help us without even knowing us. It just means a lot. So I just want people to know how thankful we are,” said Zangara.

The blood replenishing drive at Eugene Field Elementary is already fully booked. Other elementary schools getting involved include:

  • Jane Addams Elementary on Feb. 18th 1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.
  • R.F. Pettigrew Elementary on Feb. 19th 7:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.
  • Hayward Elementary on March 1st 7:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.

To sign up to donate blood click here.

A GoFundMe page was also created to help the family with medical expenses. So far almost $5,000 has been raised.

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