Saving baby Noah from leukemia through blood, platelet donations

Local News

“I really don’t think people understand what it means to us. It’s more than them giving blood, it’s helping our child survive and live,” said Michael Sileno.

Last July, at three and a half years old, Noah Sileno was diagnosed with B cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia. It’s an aggressive form of childhood cancer, forcing Noah to need as many as 10 blood and platelet transfusions before turning four years old, and that’s on top of chemotherapy treatments. 

“Blood is very important for Noah because chemo alone can’t save Noah from leukemia,” said Martha Sileno. “It’s important, it’s pertinent that he has the platelets and the blood.” 

Noah now takes Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) lessons with Jason and Emilee King at Frankie’s Body Shop in Knoxville because Noah cannot be around other kids right now. 

MMA is a way for Noah to regain strength and mobility after chemo. 

“You constantly see the MEDIC van downstairs just making deliveries,” said Mike Sileno. “What we see on a daily basis on the second floor of Children’s Hospital is a small microcosm of the need for blood in this whole area, it’s huge.” 

Noah’s need for blood was so critical – he couldn’t get his first round of chemo until after he’d had a blood transfusion and two bags of platelets.

“We’ve had five replacement blood drives for Noah at this point and without the blood and the platelets, kids, anyone with a blood cancer of some sort or a car accident, anything. They don’t stand a chance and so you have to have the blood,” said Martha Sileno. “You have to have the platelets.” 

With Noah’s next phase of treatment doctors believe his blood counts could drop again, meaning more transfusions. 

“We’ve seen a multitude of children and that boggles our minds to think that this is something we were never touched by, this is something we were never educated on and to find all these kids fighting for their lives and for blood is huge,” said Michael Sileno. “I mean the chemo of course is big but without the blood counts and without the body being built up you can’t even take the chemo.” 

Since Noah’s initial diagnosis in July 2018, he is doing really well, but he is high risk because Noah’s body didn’t respond to the chemo in a way doctors had initially hoped. However, Noah is in remission. 

Noah is not leukemia free just yet, but this does mean there was no more evidence of the leukemia at the time of his last testing. Noah will still receive chemo treatments until the age of seven. 

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