AMHERST (WKBW) Theo Bellavia was your typical 5 year old boy, until the kindergartener got sick, and a diagnosis would change his life.
"He was sick a lot and ended up contracting this illness ITP. It was an autoimmune disorder in which the white blood cells were killing off his platelets," Theo's Mom Gina said.
"It was very tough especially when I had to have a blood test at least once a day," Theo, now 8, said.
Theo required multiple transfusions over the next week, including a blood product made from a thousand different donors. Following treatment, the little boy's immune system responded, and he was cured.
"I was just amazed that my life was saved and that I could just go back to being myself again," Theo said.
"We really didn't know if he was going to make it, and just to have him be healthy and happy and active, I'm so so happy and just so grateful," his mom added.
So Gina Bellavia made a commitment. She would hold blood drives and recoup the thousand and two donations that were needed to save her son's life, plus one to pay it forward.
"I just wanted to do something good to come out of the bad. So I think for me having these experiences is replacing some of that bad. I don't think about it as much, I think about the good that has come out of this experience," she said.
Gina and the American Red Cross held a drive on Monday in Amherst. She says she will continue to push for more blood donations until all 1,003 are met.
As for her son, he had a simple message for everyone who came out to donate.
"I'd just like to say thank you so much for giving blood, and that's why I'm still here today."