King Singh, a nine-year-old, was born with a rare blood disease called glucose-6-phosphate-dehydrogenase deficiency, also known as G6PD. G6PD causes red blood cells to break down in response to certain medications, infections, or other stressors. As there is no cure for this disease, the only life-saving treatment is a blood transfusion when the red cells break down from a trigger. At the age of two, King was also diagnosed with high-risk acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a blood cancer. After three and a half years of intense, daily chemotherapy treatments and blood transfusions, Singh is now cancer free. Part of why King Singh and his family can say that is thanks to Ron Hlawaty and the Levittown Fire Department.
“To go and donate blood is probably the most human thing anybody could do,” Ron Hlawaty said. “And it’s a very simple process. To donate a pint of blood takes about an hour from start to finish. And it’s amazing to see how grateful the families are, the families of the people who needed that blood.”
Patients like King Singh rarely get to meet and thank the blood donors who saved their life. But in a special event on Jan. 26, he got that opportunity. The Levittown Fire Department hosted a blood drive, and in attendance were Singh and Hlawaty.
Hlawaty is a lifetime blood donor with more than 300 blood donations, and he serves as the chairperson for this blood drive at the Levittown Fire Department. Singh and Hlawaty have only met once before at an event last fall.
“Donating blood is extremely important and it’s vital for children like King who have blood diseases that have no cause,” Michael Singh, King’s father, said. “Nothing he did made him be born with these diseases, it’s just bad luck. If it was not for blood donations, our son would not be here. We’re grateful for the Levittown Fire Department for hosting this blood drive to give back to children and other families that may need it.”