As the saying goes: "blood is thicker than water." But when it comes to bone marrow, it is truer than ever — especially because family is usually the only people to turn to for a match.
But, one Buckeye family is finding that the phrase could not be more perfect for them because a brother has been serving as the lifeline for his sibling over the last few years.
Gloria Mesquias calls her 11-year-old son, Shaun, "the warrior."
"He takes every jab he gets and just rolls through," said Mesquias.
Shaun's 13-year-old brother Malik is called "the hero."
"They are actually like night and day, "Mesquias said. "They're brothers."
The three of them, and other supportive family members, have spent months at Phoenix Children's Hospital. Shaun has a condition where his body isn't producing new blood cells.
"He was diagnosed with severe aplastic anemia," Mesquias said.
That happened when he was just about 1 year old. Ever since then, he's been in and out of the hospital.
But, Malik has served as a bone marrow and stem cell donor to his b brother not once, not twice but, three different times.
And the fight for this little warrior, is not over yet. If his treatment goes well over the next few days, he will have a fourth surgery on Wednesday; another stem cell transplant.
Mesquias doing this all as a single mother. She also has a 5-year-old daughter, who has not seen Shaun since before Christmas.
"She understand; she gets it," Mesquias explained. "She knows brother is sick and she knows mom is here with Shaun."
But, while she tries to keep it together, all of the stress and days away from home are weighing on Mesquias. But, it's something she will never let her family see.
"At night time, I can go in the restroom and cry my eyes out or ball my face out in the pillow," Mesquias said. "But, I just don't do it in front of him."
So, the boys' Buckeye teacher, Carrie Brown, has also taken action to try and do something special for the family.
"She would never ask for help," Brown said. "She's not that kind of person. So, I just thought that this was one thing that I could do to relieve some of the worry that she has and to give her a little bit of comfort."
Brown started a GoFundMe page to try and help the family who has given so much to each other.
And Mesquias said she is making sure all of them get out of that hospital together.
"He has his moments too where he says he wants to go home," Mesquias explained. "And... I'm like, 'I'm not going home until you're going home. So, we're good."