Teen, saved by transfusions, now organizes his own blood drive

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — According to the American Red Cross, around 29,000 units of red blood are needed every day for people in the U.S., like 16-year-old Xavier “Xisto” Montoya.

When he was only 10 years old, Xisto was diagnosed with aplastic anemia. It’s a rare condition that occurs when someone’s bone marrow can’t make enough new blood cells for the body.

Xisto’s case was severe enough to where he needed life-saving transfusions.

“I had no blood cells at all, what I survived on was going to the blood rooms,” he said, “and that’s when they would give me blood and I saw that other kids were there getting blood too.”

Xisto wanted to make sure blood wasn’t in short supply for others who needed it most, too. With the help of a local taekwondo studio, he hosted his very first blood drive six years ago.

“Just seeing people donate and that they have the drive to help other people, I thought that was the coolest thing about it,” he said.

Now, at age 16, Xisto is hosting another drive, with a twist: He’ll be donating his own blood.

“I’m really excited, a little nervous because when I talked to them they said that it’s usually the teenage boys that pass out the most,” he said.

His sixth annual blood drive is October 29. Vendors will also be there and other activities will be taking place, all in support of the Aplastic Anemia Foundation: