Father, Daughter Share Special Bond through Blood Donation
Even through ups and downs, Mick and Roberta Pytlick are still passionate about giving blood
FARGO, N.D. — Blood is the glue that binds families together, but back in 1997, it was blood that sparked a tradition that would keep Mick Pytlik’s family tighter and stronger.
“My great aunt had an aneurysm, an abdominal aneurysm, that ruptured. She was like another grandma to us, and I was sitting in the hospital with her, they kept hanging units of blood. It donned on me that that blood came from somewhere. They didn’t just pull it out of the refrigerator, it had to come from people,” Mick said.
The chance to possibly save his great aunt’s life, as well as many others, inspired Mick to donate blood several times a year.
That passion for helping others through blood donation spread to his oldest daughter, Roberta.
“My dad and I have a lot in common, and we have similar personalities, and so it sort of felt like it came naturally,” Roberta said.
As the years went by, Mick and Roberta started donating more frequently. At one point, Mick was giving blood a couple of times per month.
“I knew it was something I could do to help, to help other people. Not everybody can donate blood, but I knew it was something I could do and as I long as I could reasonably do it, I wanted to do it,” said Mick.
Mick continued to give as frequently as he could.
The last time he gave blood was over a year ago.
He headed into the blood center on a Saturday morning in April 2018 to give for the 98th time, but he got some unexpected news.
“I was actually joking with the tech, saying that ‘well at least my hemoglobin won’t be too low’, and she tested my hemoglobin and said ‘your hemoglobin’s too low to donate, we’ll defer you a couple days’ and I deferred to the next Saturday. So I went the next Saturday and it was still too low, so I went in a third week and it was lower yet, and so I knew something was going on but I didn’t know exactly what,” Mick said.
After a series of doctors appointments, Mick went to the hospital since his physicians were afraid his kidneys were shutting down.
“They didn’t diagnose me until a couple days later, when they sent a biopsy down to Mayo and had Mayo confirm it, and then they said I had multiple myeloma,” said Mick.
Multiple myeloma is a form of blood cancer that attacks plasma cells.
When he was first diagnosed, Mick was initially worried about the future.
“I didn’t want to be in a situation where they had to explain who Grandpa was and said you would have really liked him,” said Mick.
When Mick went to the hospital, Roberta and her two sisters began donating blood more frequently.
Roberta and her dad already share a lot in common, but it was something that ran inside them that tightened the bond even further.
“My dad and I are the same blood type so it literally could be the case that one of my donations went to him or will again in the future,” Roberta said.
Mick powered through the treatment, and his cancer is currently inactive.
While he was going through treatment, Mick could finally check one milestone off his list.
“When I was down at the University of Minnesota for my stem cell transplants, they had to harvest my stem cells from my blood for the transplant, and the doctor who was in charge said ‘you know what, we’re going to count these too, so you can hit a hundred.’ So I ended up donating four times, so with those donations I’ve donated 101 times, even though four of those were to myself,” said Mick.
Even though he can’t donate blood to others anymore, he says being on both sides of the coin helps him appreciate how blood really helps people.
“I did it to help save lives and it ended up saving my life,” said Mick.
Roberta says she plans on donating blood again on Christmas Eve.
To learn more information about the KVRR Holiday Blood Drive, click here.