The family of Mason Fandino-Orona, the Castaic infant who died last year after his weeks-long battle with a fatal blood disease, is set to host a blood drive this summer in order to honor the memory of their son on what would have been his first birthday.
The event, according to its organizers, is designed to not only memorialize Fandino-Orona, who succumbed to his disease only weeks after being born on July 12, 2021, but to also give back to those children who still need help.
According to the infant’s mother, Christa, within three days of taking her newborn son home from the hospital last year she began to notice he was having trouble breathing.
“We didn’t know because when we left the hospital he was a healthy boy,” said Christa in an interview with The Signal on Wednesday, adding that she and her husband, Juan, took him to the hospital immediately out of concern. “And when he was there at (Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital), he got more sick over time.”
Eventually, Mason was diagnosed with disseminated intravascular coagulation, or DIC, a hemorrhagic disorder that results in the depletion of blood platelets and clotting factors in the blood, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
“It means that his blood wasn’t clotting like a normal person’s would … and when they would poke him to draw blood, he wouldn’t stop bleeding,” Christa recounted.
Upon her request, Mason was transferred to L.A. Children’s Hospital, where he battled against his disease for as long as he could, according to his mother.
“When he was at L.A. Children’s Hospital, they gave him two weeks to live,” said Christa. “He got worse, and probably by the fifth day I got a call and they’re like: ‘You need to come say goodbye to your son.’”
When she arrived that day at the hospital, her son was breathing, but rotating between ventilators. Christa would be informed that the blood disease had caused his liver to shut down, his kidneys were now failing and they gave any corrective surgery a 50-50 chance of killing him.
He made it through the surgery anyway, Christa said, and was able to stabilize momentarily. But the 1-week-old infant required blood and more platelets, and the hospital/NICU was experiencing a shortage.
“And so, we asked our family and friends, and we had probably over 200 people donate blood and platelets that next day,” said Christa. “They were able to give it to him for another week.”
Mason would die on the evening of July 30 after his infected blood began attacking his heart and his lungs. She and her husband, Christa said, were comforted by the more than 100 people who had come to support their son in his final days.
“Every single time I would talk to him he would move and they’re like: ‘We don’t know how he’s moving,’” said Christa. “He would always like to squeeze my fingers, open his eyes and let me know that he’s like trying; so, we were fighting for him just as much as he was fighting.”
After he died, Christa said the blood donated by those who came in support of Mason was distributed to the other babies in the NICU, who were also at risk due to the blood platelet shortage.
And now a year later, in memory of their son’s battle, Christa said she wanted to help mitigate the number of other children who are still threatened by low blood bank supplies.
“For his first birthday, I wanted to honor him and do a blood drive in his name, giving back to the children that still need help and their parents that are running out of hope,” said Christa.
The blood drive, set to be run by L.A. Children’s Hospital clinicians, is set to take place from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on July 12 at the Fandino-Orona household, located at 30488 Capallero Drive. To make an appointment, visit the blood drive’s webpage at https://bit.ly/39dxGHC