"In figuring out how to tell our little boy what was happening, Austin’s dad got creative. He told Austin that the red blood he was going to receive was superhero blood." —Andrea, Austin's mom
Austin Overline was just like any 3 ½ year old boy. Energetic and happy, he loved to play with tractors and get himself as dirty as possible—until early 2012, when blood tests revealed he had a hemoglobin count of just 5.5, an enlarged spleen, and, ultimately, a diagnosis of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL)—a type of childhood cancer affecting the blood and bone marrow.
“Our world came crashing down that day,” Austin’s mother Andrea recalled. “It all happened so fast. The staff at Children’s Hospital rushed to get fluids in him and determine his blood type so he could receive his first of several blood transfusions ASAP. Then, in figuring out how to tell our innocent little boy what was happening, Austin’s dad Justin got creative. He told Austin that the red blood he was going to receive was superhero blood. Not just anyone could get superhero blood. You had to be a very special kind of kid: a superhero.”
The creative storytelling worked. From that day forward, Austin began relating every medical experience to his superhero identity. Chemotherapy became little superheroes in his blood attacking all the bad blood. When he needed to wear leg braces due to chemotherapy treatments, Austin described them as superhero leg braces with extra superpowers that would eventually help him run, kick, and jump.
And, of course, his blood will forever be known as superhero blood.
“Austin is a true superhero in all of our eyes," said Andrea, "and so are the generous blood donors who helped save our son’s life. As Austin continues his treatments—for at least another two years—and requires more blood and platelet transfusions, we will be forever grateful to all those who are there for us.”
“Even though donating blood seems like such a small thing, it's not,” Andrea added. “Four years ago I started donating blood with my mom to get over my fear of needles. And now what motivates me is Austin. Knowing that blood saved his life gives me the fuel to continue donating every 56 days. In fact, when I donate, I like to think it's going to kids like Austin battling cancer, giving them all the superpowers they need to win their own personal battles against this terrifying disease.”
Hear more about Austin's story on KARE 11 here.
Find out more about how you can help save the lives of infants, children, and adults through blood donation. Learn more at About Blood.