PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Every year, 13.6 million units of blood are donated, and every two seconds, somebody needs to use that blood, according to the American Red Cross.

Just a few years ago, that blood went to cancer survivors Shayla Schielein and Karly Rathbun.

“Our blood was filled with cancer cells, so we sometimes we would just [get] tired and that’s when they knew. They automatically knew without even having to do the labs that we would need extra blood to make us feel a little bit better,” said Shielein, who received 11 blood transfusions.

April Rathbun, mother to cancer survivor Karly Rathbun, said it’s important to donate blood because people like her daughter needed 14 blood transfusions when fighting childhood cancer.

With a combined 25 blood transfusions between the two of them, the American Red Cross and its donors were a major component in their healing process.

“The donors, they’ve helped so many kids get the blood that they needed. That made me feel really, really happy,” said Schielein.

“I didn’t know them [the donors], but I definitely love them. They saved me from it,” said Karly Rathbun.

That’s why Karly and Shayla advocate for others to donate to the Red Cross. Mallory Schielein, Shayla’s mother, said Shayla probably wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for the blood transfusions and Red Cross donors.

“You just never know who’s going to need it. I mean, it could be your local cancer patient, like my daughter,” said Rathbun.

Shayla and Karly became best friends while going through treatement about five years ago and still are to this day.

To them, it’s more important than ever to donate for those who have the ability to do so. The girls even started their own blood drive for people to donate.

Mallory Shielein said the girls’ blood drive takes place in September, which is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

Both families hope that hundreds of people show up for the 12 hours of giving event put on by the American Red Cross. It will take place at the Par-A-Dice Hotel on Dec. 21, from 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. To sign up, click here.