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Blood transfusions helped 4-year-old boy beat cancer

By Kristina Jackson

Chase Gray seems like a typical 4-year-old boy.

He spends his days at preschool and daycare. He loves the Avengers — especially Captain America — and playing with his sister, Averie, who’s almost a year old.

Aside from being a bit smaller than other children his age, nothing about Chase seems out of the ordinary.

And yet Chase spent most of first two years in the hospital, undergoing chemotherapy treatments — and since blood transfusions essentially saved his life, Chase’s parents are now encouraging others to donate blood.

“You never know when you’re going to need it,” said Chase’s mother, Amanda Gray, a financial analyst in Manhattan.

Chase was diagnosed with a soft tissue cancer at just four weeks old.

He then underwent chemotherapy treatments at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City for 19 months.

During that time, he received 16 pints of blood.

Amanda, who also received 2 pints of blood when Chase was born, said she probably spent 60 to 75 percent of her time in Kansas City with her son. Chase was an only child at the time, and Amanda said that her and her husband’s employers were helpful in the situation.

“At that time we could really just focus on him,” she said.

Although Chase’s cancer treatments ended long ago, his parents said there are more surgeries in his future, which will probably result in him needing more blood. His tumor was near his spine, so he now has two rods in his back that will require surgeries every nine months.

Chase’s father, Robert Gray, works at Mercy Regional Health Center and said the situation showed him the importance of blood donors.

“It opens your eyes to a whole new deal,” he said.

Amanda said that some people might claim that they’ll wait until a family member needs blood, but the process takes too long for that.

Although Chase’s illness gave them the foresight to know that he would probably need blood, Amanda said that is not always the case.

She did not expect to be desperate when she had a baby. The same could apply to a car accident.

“Accidents happen all the time,” she said. “There’s no way you can expect it.”

The Grays said they both have been donating blood since high school, and now they see what the end result can be.

“You just make sure you do it as often as you can,” Robert said.

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