When Vanessa Rios was diagnosed with a rare blood disease, her family did what they could to help. But without a bone marrow match among her siblings, Rios’ mom, Maricela Rios went to the community for help.

“As a mother, I couldn’t help my daughter with what she has,” said Rios, who hosted a blood and bone marrow drive in conjunction with Scott & White on Friday at Long Branch Park in Killeen. “(My family) thought, ‘What can we do? We can’t just sit here and just watch her in the hospital.’”

More than 60 people signed up to donate blood and about 10 people signed up to be a bone marrow donor, said Stephanie Jardot, Scott & White’s Marrow Donor Program’s recruiter.

Rios was pleased at the turnout of people who were donating blood to support other patients like her daughter, who was diagnosed with aplastic anemia on May 17 after numerous hospital tests.

Vanessa Rios said her body’s bone marrow doesn’t produce enough white and red blood cells and platelets, which causes her to become exhausted easily. She makes at least three trips to the doctor to check her blood levels every week, with one of them usually requiring a blood transfusion.

After her diagnosis, the Killeen High School sophomore was worried she wouldn’t be able to finish out the school year.

“I don’t ever want to get up in the morning, and I have to go to the doctor a lot, which has never happened before,” she said. “It’s really hard to go through it and see if any (progress will happen). Hopefully, it will go away with all the treatment.”

As she continues to battle her rare disease, Vanessa Rios remains thankful for her family and the community’s support.

“It’s very thoughtful for (everyone) to come out here and donate and do whatever they can to support me and my family,” she said.

Contact Sarah Rafique at srafique@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7549. Follow her on Twitter at KDHreporter.

I'm the education reporter at the Killeen Daily Herald. Follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SarahRafique

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