Toddler with Rare Cancer Meets 24 Blood Donors Who Helped Save Her Life: It Was 'Life in a Bag'

Doctors gave 2-year-old Skye Skye Savren-McCormick just a 10 percent chance of surviving after she was diagnosed with two types of cancer

Photo: Reed Hutchinson/UCLA

Doctors did not expect 2-year-old Skye Savren-McCormick to survive after she was diagnosed with two types of cancer. Now, she’s meeting two dozen strangers who donated blood to save her life.

Just months after little Skye was born, doctors diagnosed her with lymphoma and juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia — a rare cancer that only affects one in one million children.

“These words were like a hydrogen bomb had just been dropped in our laps, with the smiling face of your own child,” Skye’s mother, Talia Savren-McCormick, 33, tells PEOPLE. “[Doctors] gave us a 10 percent chance of survival and the option to fight or quit. As parents, we decided we had to keep fighting and Skye would tell us when or if she was done.”

Skye required blood and platelet transfusions — often on a daily basis — and underwent three bone-marrow transplants, surgery to remove her oversized spleen and several rounds of chemotherapy for the cancers, hospital officials say. She had received 77 units of blood and platelets during a 10-month stay at UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital.

Reed Hutchinson/UCLA

“The donations were life in a bag,” Savren-McCormick says. “It’s not a fight I would ever wish on anyone. But we fought it none the less, and every time we got knocked down, we stood back up.”

The family, of Ventura, California, spent nearly 300 days at the hospital before Skye was discharged last May. Now, with her cancers in remission, doctors say Skye is gaining weight and her health is steadily improving. Recently, Skye and her parents met 24 of the 71 donors who gave the blood and platelets that saved her life.

“We were pretty excited to be able to meet a few of these special people. We had an idea that we’d meet at least a few, but we weren’t prepared for exactly how many would actually show up. There was a real palpable sense of gratitude and awe amongst everyone there,” Savren-McCormick says.

Talia Savren-McCormick

The diverse group of donors ranged in age from 17 to 71.

“I kept saying thank you and thank you again from the bottom of my heart to each and every person we met that day. Skye was a little wary at first, but we had friends and family close around her and soon warmed up to being her normal bubbly self. And every time we met a donor, she was sitting in either Todd or my arms.”

Photos of the meet-up showed little Skye surrounded by the smiling donors as her mother and father, 36-year-old Todd, held her and posed. Now, Savren-McCormick says that although Skye, who will be 3 in March, is still dealing with the after-effects of the illnesses and treatments, the family is in a much better place.

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“Cancer will forever be a part of our lives. It is just our life now to enjoy the miracle after having come through this. We will always be checking to make sure Skye is okay, but we will never allow it become the ultimate focus of our lives,” Savren-McCormick tells PEOPLE.

“Skye has had a few obstacles such as … eating issues, different infections, and breathing issues. She has been in-patient since her May release five times. Even though we knew that was always something that could happen, it is always a blow. But she continues to be a happy toddler and continues to bring joy to our family.”

The family has set up a YouCaring page to cover medical costs.

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