Family appeals for blood for mother battling cancer

A mother of two, who has six months to live after being diagnosed with breast cancer, is seeking donors of blood type A positive (A+) said Paulia “Lia” Pa’o-Pelenato a relative of Epi Seufalemua of Ili’ili.


The family is reaching out to "anyone who has blood Type A+"


However, if you have gout, high blood pressure, diabetes or gall stones, you cannot give blood per doctor's advice.


“We've asked everyone we know and most have come to give blood but most do not match the blood type. So, we're asking the public if they can come out, and the test will not cost anyone, all is covered under Epi's bill,” said the family.


A+ blood is the second most common type of blood after type O+.


In an email to Samoa News, Lia told the story of her cousin Epi and how she’s been battling cancer. 


Epi, who’s 45 years old was diagnosed with breast cancer around the beginning of December 2011 and had surgery here at LBJ hospital at the end of December to remove her right breast which contained lumps. “After her surgery, Epi continued to see the doctor to monitor her recovery from the surgery.


“At the end of January, the doctor notified Epi that the cancer had spread to her right underarm and that she would require chemotherapy.” Lia said given that Epi was born in Samoa there was limited help available for her in the territory or in the mainland.


The family said that it seemed they would have either a long process or a long time to wait before she would get any help, so they turned their focus to Apia for assistance.


Lia said her mother, Apaula Pa’o took Epi to Apia and pleaded her case to the doctors. Epi was given the opportunity to travel to New Zealand for chemo as well as other cancer treatments.


“Epi was in NZ for almost five months. The NZ doctors told Epi that she didn't need Chemo as the cancer had not spread. They chose to give her medicinal pills instead of chemo. “The hospital in NZ determined that the information about her cancer spreading (from LBJ) was misinformed. Epi returned home in May 2012 and upon returning she was doing well and was back to work."


“However around March this year, Epi was beginning to get sick again, nothing serious just that her flu/cough wouldn't go away. On top of that, she was beginning to lose her breath every couple of steps, as if she had asthma. It seemed something was wrong but we didn't know what it was. When Epi was taken again to the hospital, more tests were conducted and it was later found out, that the cancer had spread to her liver. “We were sadly given the bad news that Epi has about six months to live,” said Lia.


Since her cancer has spread to her liver it now presents a new problem. Since her liver is not working, it cannot process water throughout her body, and fills up her chest area, which is why she's been having breathing problems.


The water has been concentrated in her chest and sitting there, and while the doctors have been draining her chest, they have advised that this is also dangerous as infection can develop. On top of that, her blood count has been very low.


Since her blood count is low, the doctors cannot drain the water which is now crippling her. For the past two weeks, the family have all been tested for blood type A+ to fine someone who can give blood to Epi.


“We've also had our church family and friends and a few community people tested — only five had the matching blood type. Out of the five, only three could give blood, the other two had illnesses, making it impossible for them to give blood,” she said.


Then of the three remaining donors. only two became eligible to give blood. “The third person developed a fever and therefore was eliminated.”


Lia said their family were notified this past Saturday, June 15, when the doctor informed Epi that her blood level has gone down again (even after two blood transfusions, which were not enough) and therefore, the water cannot be drained yet.


The doctors have said that Epi needs to be very careful because although she has time to spend with her family before the inevitable cancer takes her life, the new threat now with her low blood count and water in her chest means that she she is at risk to go early.


Epi is married to Sapea Seufalemua and they have two young sons, 11-years-old Mikey and 8-year-old Malechi according to Lia. 


She noted that their family explored other options prior to reaching out to the public. Lia can be reached via email at or contact 258-2012 regarding a potential blood donor for Epi.


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