This 8-year-old boy is one reason why you should donate blood

LITTLE ROCK (KATV) - Blood donations are always needed but for one Arkansas boy it's a matter of life or death.

September is Sickle Cell Awareness month and the American Red Cross is encouraging you to make a difference and donate blood.

Eliot Spann has had a stroke, open heart surgery and dozens of blood transfusions and he's only eight years old. But main reason he's alive is because of blood donations.

Eliot is like most children his age. He loves school and his favorite super hero is Spiderman.

But there is one thing that sets him apart. He has Sickle Cell Anemia, a disease that produces abnormally shaped blood cells that can clog blood vessels and cause organ damage. He has to get blood transfusions every month.

"It doesn't feel right knowing that I have to go through all the pain when they just get to live a normal life," he said.

But he isn't the only one who suffers because of this disease.

"The hardest thing was when he told me, 'Mom I don't want to do it anymore. I'm tired of them sticking me,'" said his mother, Edwina Mosby.

Eliot's two aunts and a cousin have the disease. He's one of nearly 100,000 Americans currently living with Sickle Cell.

"Elliot has been stuck so many times that he has scar tissue and so before we go in we say, 'God bless me to only have two sticks, two sticks only,' said Mosby.

But however painful the blood transfusions may be, it's what's keeping Elliot alive.

"If he doesn't get his transfusions then he won't be able to live," said an emotional Mosby.

Which is why blood donations are crucial to the survival of those with sickle cell, especially someone like Elliot who's already had a stroke.

"I have to pray that other people will donate blood," she said.

Donating blood can't cure the disease.

"I'd ask for my sickle cell to go away," said Eliot.

But your donation could help someone like Elliot live a longer, healthier life.

According to the CDC, the average life expectancy for someone with this disease is 20-30 years lower than those without it. African Americans are more likely to get it, donors of the same race are a better match. Only 5 percent of African Americans currently donate blood.