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Giant Eagle spotlight: Beating the odds of rare blood disorder

Jacob Whiteman

Jacob Whiteman

Now 11-years-old, Jacob Whiteman wasn’t supposed to live for more than one year.

To show thanks to Akron Children’s Hospital, Jacob will be participating in a campaign at Giant Eagle stores. The proceeds will benefit Akron Children’s Showers Family Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorders.

Jacob was 9 months old when he was diagnosed with a rare blood disorder, Diamond-Blackfan anemia. The disorder restricts bone marrow from producing red blood cells.

He also has auto immune neutropenia, which affects his body’s ability to produce white blood cells.

“Basically, he can’t live without monthly blood transfusions,” said his mother, MaryAnn Whiteman.

Children with Diamond-Blackfan anemia often become severely anemic and run the risk of developing other disorders such as leukemia.

“The hardest thing is not knowing if he’ll keep getting better, or if he’ll get worse,” said MaryAnn. “There is always a chance it could get worse.”

Jacob and his family have made a second home at Akron Children’s, and they consider the hematology-oncology department a second family.

“All the staff that we see has been amazing to us,” said MaryAnn. “[Akron Children’s] is the best place to be in this situation.”

To show thanks to the staff and the hospital, Jacob’s family started a foundation called “Jacob’s Warriors.” The foundation helps raise money for Akron Children’s and helps assist families of children with blood disorders.

Giant Eagle stores in Stark, Summit, Medina and Portage counties are collecting donations on behalf of the Akron Children’s Showers Family Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorders from May 30 – June 26.

Make sure to tell your cashier you would like to donate $1 to help patients like Jacob.