Although Randy Ramos and Lillian Ramos have identical last names, they are not related by blood — but they are connected by it.
Randy, 8, and Lillian, 7, were diagnosed with the same form of leukemia in 2017: acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL), also called lymphoblastic or lymphoid, a type that accounts for most childhood leukemias. The other two main types of leukemia in children are acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) and chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML).
As part of their leukemia treatments, the children receive blood transfusions at Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida.
“Leukemia is a type of blood cancer that begins in the bone marrow,” says pediatric hematology-oncology specialist Craig MacArthur, M.D., who treats both Randy and Lillian. “When a child has leukemia, the bone marrow produces white blood cells that don’t mature correctly. These immature cells reproduce themselves and crowd out the normal healthy cells. When this happens, a child experiences the symptoms of leukemia.”
After Randy’s diagnosis, his mother, Jezabel Carida Lima brought him to Golisano Children’s Hospital four times a week for his blood transfusions. Now in remission, Randy goes once a week every two weeks or when his blood count is low.
“We are very grateful to the blood center, the doctors, and the nurses at Golisano Children’s Hospital,” Jezabel says. “They made us feel very welcome.” She says Randy has two more years of chemotherapy treatment, which she administers as a liquid to him once a week at their Cape Coral home. Like Randy, Lillian is currently in remission. Her mother, Amanda Gardner, administers Lillian’s chemotherapy treatment as a pill once a week at their Fort Myers home.
“It has been a challenge,” says Amanda. “The doctors and nurses at Golisano Children’s Hospital have made it much easier. Everyone has made us feel like a family. Dr. MacArthur is someone you can tell loves his job. It’s been an amazing journey.”
Lillian started a Facebook page detailing her health care journey. To follow along, visit www.facebook.com/lillysleukemiajourney
Donors may give blood if they meet the following criteria:
- Weigh at least 115 pounds
- Age 17 or older, 16 with parental consent
- Are healthy and feel well
- First-time donors must have positive identification photo
Interested in donating blood? Find a location:
Bonita Community Health Center
3501 Health Center Boulevard, Suite 2100
Bonita Springs, FL 34135
Cape Coral Hospital
636 Del Prado Boulevard
Cape Coral, FL 33990
Lee Memorial Hospital
2776 Cleveland Avenue
Fort Myers, FL 33901
15880 Summerlin Road, Suite 113
Fort Myers, FL 33908