Blood drive draws from near and far
Fremont– Donors came from as far away as Muskegon on Friday to do their small part and help a total stranger they’ve never met, an 11-year-old girl with a special need.
Tegan Rose of Spring Lake has leukemia and requires a much-needed transfusion. The challenge: Tegan has O-negative blood, a rare blood group that only 5 percent of the world’s population is estimated to have.
To help find a match, Spectrum Health Gerber Memorial teamed up with Michigan Blood to host a special blood drive on Friday, July 14 – and the public’s response was overwhelming, exceeding even the most optimistic expectations of staff working during the blood drive.
“I think many of us were expecting 15 people to show up, which is on the high end for blood drives, so imagine our surprise when more than 30 people came to give blood,” said Julie Ward, manager of Gerber Memorial lab services who helped coordinate the blood drive. “We had lines of people waiting to donate blood, and that just goes to show how generous West Michigan is.”
Amy Rotter, Community Relations Coordinator at Michigan Blood said that even though more than one-third of people are able to donate, only 3 to 4 percent of them actually give blood. That can make it difficult for people, especially those with rare blood types, to get the lifesaving transfusions they need.
Rotter said that’s what happened in the case of Tegan, who had to wait several hours for a blood transfusion when there wasn't enough of her blood type in stock.
“It's thanks to blood donors that people like Tegan are able to keep going,” Rotter said. “And at the Spectrum Health Gerber Memorial blood drive, donors really stepped up to help Michiganders across the state. Gerber Memorial, along with the more than 60 others across the state, rely on blood donors to provide their patients with lifesaving blood products.”
Michigan Blood expected 15 donors, an average number. More than 30 people registered, and 15 of those were first-time donors. Each donation can save up to three lives, so more than 80 Michigan lives could potentially be saved as a result of the generous donations Friday.
Rotter thanked all the donors who gave blood on Friday.
One of those donors on Friday was Cheri Shears of Fremont.
Shears said: “Every time that I try to give blood my iron is too low and I am unable to. However, today was a different story. I am O-Negative and they were able to take my blood. I was prompted to come today because of Tegan’s story. It feels good knowing that I am making a difference.”
Tom Bisson drove all the way from Muskegon. Bisson said: “I saw the call for O-Negative blood and Tegan’s story online and drove up from Muskegon to make a donation. I used to give blood on a regular basis and haven’t lately so it feels good to give to someone in need.”