E. Texas mother organizes blood drive to honor son's death - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

E. Texas mother organizes blood drive to honor son's death

Robby Cano lost his battle with HLH just 10 days after being diagnosed. (Source: Cano Family) Robby Cano lost his battle with HLH just 10 days after being diagnosed. (Source: Cano Family)
Robby's parents organized a blood drive to raise awareness of HLH. (Source: KLTV Staff) Robby's parents organized a blood drive to raise awareness of HLH. (Source: KLTV Staff)
Robby's mother says she will continue to spread her message to honor her son. (Source: KLTV Staff) Robby's mother says she will continue to spread her message to honor her son. (Source: KLTV Staff)
TYLER, TX (KLTV) - An East Texas couple is hoping to raise awareness of a rarely diagnosed disease after the sudden death of their son last year. 

Robby Cano, who was a student at Whitehouse High School, died within days of being diagnosed with HLH, or Hemophagocytic Lympohistiocytosis, a rare cancer-like disorder. Robby's parents held a blood drive Saturday to memorialize their son and educate others about the condition.

“I just want to bring awareness because it can happen to anybody: baby, young adult, teenager or even a senior citizen,” said Laura Cano, Robby's mother.

Laura says her son came home one day from playing a round of golf feeling achy and with a fever.

“Robby was only sixteen-years-old. He was diagnosed with the mono virus on Monday and by Friday, doctors at Children's Medical Center in Dallas said we suspect your child has HLH,” said Laura.

She says Robby was diagnosed with secondary HLH.

“It causes your immune system to not do its job properly. Your histiocytes are supposed to attack any foreign virus or bacteria. In Robby's case, instead of his histiocytes attacking the bacteria, it started to attack his own organs,” she said.

In only ten days, Laura says her son lost his battle with the disease.

“He had a lot of blood transfusions and plasma to try to see if he could get a little bit of the chemotherapy that might save his life, but he couldn't, his body couldn't do it,” said Laura.

One year later, Laura says she and her husband decided to honor their son by organizing a blood drive to help others.

“Blood does save lives. It has saved other kids' lives and other adults' lives,” she said.

Dozens of East Texans donated blood, including family friend Shauna Hittle.

“Until this happened to our friend's family, I was completely unaware of the disease HLH and after that, we've learned unfortunately that is more common than one might expect. It's just very rarely diagnosed,” said Hittle.

Laura says she's overwhelmed by the support she's received in her effort to raise awareness for HLH.

“Basically, there are two things I can do. I can do nothing about what happened to my son or I can do something so that other people know about it,” she said.

Carter Blood Center collected 66 units of blood at the event which Laura says in turn will help 198 people.

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