Valley 12-year-old fighting for his life, with message to community during blood donation shortage

Local News

MADERA, Calif. (KGPE) – A family of a Central Valley boy fighting for his life is sharing their story in hopes more people will donate blood and platelets.

12-year-old Jaden Wenger has been battling Leukemia at Valley Children’s Hospital for 10 weeks. While he continues to be resilient, he needs help to get vital care.

“He is an absolute inspiration,” said Jaden’s father Jake. “A tough kid, and it makes it easier to go through this when you have a superhero like that you can fight for. It makes it a lot easier when you have a strong kid like that.”

Jaden’s life was forever changed on July 15th while showing pigs at the Stanislaus County Fair. He started to feel sick and went to the emergency room. He was transported to Valley Children’s hospital in Madera and has been undergoing chemotherapy ever since.

“He loves the 49ers,” said his dad. “So, we have been spending Sundays, Jaden and I, get to spend Sundays cheering on the 49ers together.”

Jaden’s parents, who have two other young children, take turns driving from Modesto to be by Jaden’s side. On the wall is a logo they made of Jaden as Captain America with #JadenStrong.

“We have our Jaden Strong logo,” said Jake. “We have Jaden as Captain America. So he is our superhero. He is our Captain America.”

Jaden has a rare type of Leukemia that aggressively attacks the blood, which is why he has to have blood and platelet transfusions almost every day.

On Sunday, his family was told these essential transfusions might not be available for several days due to a shortage.

“Unfortunately, right now we are experiencing a blood shortage,” said Central California Blood Center Marketing Director Ersilia Lacaze. “There are various factors that unfortunately align to create a perfect storm that contributes to us not having platelets or blood quickly enough.”

Luckily, this week there have been just enough donations to get Jaden the help he needs, but because platelets only have a five-day shelf life, Jaden’s family is concerned about what the future holds.

“To hear ‘We know what your son needs but we don’t have access to it?'” said Jake. “It is gut-wrenching in a time when you are already just absolutely distraught and destroyed.”

Jaden asks the community to donate if they can so that he and others can get the healthcare they need.

“Not only is it easier to know I have platelets but seeing other kids not have platelets,” said Jaden.

Jaden has about three months left of treatment in the hospital. People can donate blood every eight weeks and platelets every two weeks. You can find information and sign up to donate here.

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