The Blood Matters Blog ·

Blood Donor Receives Cancer Diagnosis After Platelet Donation

Worried by her test results, OBI Medical Director Dr. Michael Stevenson advised Jennifer Cotto see her doctor immediately. It was there Jennifer learned she had leukemia, a diagnosis made in time to save her life.


“Every day you go through, and you think you’ve got tomorrow but that’s not true,” said Tony Cotto.

When Jennifer Cotto and her husband, Tony, went to donate platelets in late 2022, she thought it would be a breeze.

“I got hooked up to the machine and it started running. Then an error message popped up,” Jennifer said. “The tech came over and reset the machine. Started it up again and another error message happened."

Little did she know she was about to receive news no one ever wants to hear. After Jennifer’s platelet donation went through Our Blood Institute’s testing, something didn’t look right. Her results ended up in the hands of OBI Medical Director Dr. Michael Stevenson.

“It showed that her platelet count was very high and not only that, that her white blood count was also very elevated. I was pretty concerned about a health issue that maybe she was developing that maybe she wasn’t yet aware of,” said Dr. Stevenson.

Those results led Stevenson to contact Jennifer directly.

“He recommended I go see my doctor for further evaluation and another CBC to confirm,” Jennifer said.

“And he was pretty urgent about it too. ‘Do it today if you can,’” Tony added.

The following Monday, Jennifer found herself in her primary care provider’s office with many questions left unanswered. It would take weeks before she received an official diagnosis. It was cancer.

“That final diagnosis came November 30th,” Jennifer said.

“You think the worst. Is it the very aggressive form? How far along is it? What is the treatment gonna be? All that. And oh, by the way, I might lose her. I wasn’t happy about that, of course. You know, it was pretty trying,” Tony said.

Jennifer was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia, a type of cancer that starts in the blood-forming cells of the bone marrow and invades the blood. But now, over a year later, Jennifer is starting to feel back to her old self again.

“I’m feeling good overall. I do have anemia, which is a side effect of the disease and in combination with the treatment. A little tired but nothing serious,” Jennifer said.

Though still receiving treatment, Jennifer and Tony are no longer putting their plans on hold. The pair are already planning a trip to Hawaii to celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary.

“My doctor told me, ‘You need to live your life,’” Jennifer said. “In October is our anniversary and we’ll be traveling, having fun.”

But without donating platelets and that phone call, Jennifer isn’t sure how long she would have gone without being diagnosed.

“I just want to say thank you to the Oklahoma Blood Institute. I said this in a text message to Dr. Stevenson after my diagnosis. I said, ‘What you do is important. You help the people who are sick. You also help the people like me who thought they were not sick get that kind of diagnosis early.’”

“Thanks for saving my wife,” Tony said.


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