These Teens Made a Difference: Patrick Pedraja
Bone marrow registry started
Ten-year old kids don't usually have too much to worry about. That was not the case for Patrick Pedraja, who was diagnosed with leukemia when he was 10.
"I was laying in a hospital bed and I was watching one of my friends pass away," he told the Scholastic Kids Press Corps. "She was only a little girl."
Patrick, who is now 14, didn't waste any time feeling sorry for himself. He decided to do something.
Patrick started a national bone marrow drive known as "Driving for Donors." Bone marrow is the tissue found in the center of bones. Marrow can be taken from a healthy person and transplanted to a leukemia patient. Leukemia is a cancer of the blood. Replacing the old bone marrow with healthy bone marrow enables the body to make healthy blood that is free of cancer.
Finding a donor whose marrow is a match for the patient is highly difficult however. Without a matching donor, the leukemia patient could die.
Patrick is working hard to find donors and because of his efforts, he has helped save about 10 lives so far. He hopes to save even more. He has registered 20,000 donors in the National Marrow Donor Program Registry.
"It makes me feel good to know that I can actually make a difference," he said.
Recently, Patrick participated in the Just Peace Summit for teen leaders between the ages of 14-19. The event was hosted by Three Dot Dash, which is a global initiative of the We Are Family Foundation (WAFF). They held a summit in New York designed to help teach extraordinary teens how to promote their causes.
"They brought 25 different people from around the world to teach them each how to further their cause by social media, how to raise funds and how to get the message out there," Patrick said. "It was a really fun experience. It taught me how to further my cause with the social media, the written word and photography and film and things like that."
Patrick finished chemotherapy last July and is doing well now. When he has free time, he likes to play hockey and baseball and enjoys hanging out with his friends. He learned some important life lessons during his battle with leukemia.
"Just stay positive," he said. "That's 80 per cent of the battle, right there—your attitude. It really helps if you have a positive attitude. It's really helps you out with your life and the disease. It just makes a huge difference."
He also offered some advice to kids in a similar situation.
"You just never give up, honestly, you just have to keep battling it, keep fighting," he said. "You have to have the will to live, because you should never have to give up."
Be sure to also check out Kid Reporter Danielle Azzolina's story about Ayna Agarwal, another teen making a difference.
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Mariam El Hasan is a member of the Scholastic Kids Press Corps.