The Times West Virginian

Opinion

July 28, 2013

Put a face with Tuesday’s blood drive and continue tradition of giving

There’s a face on the Times West Virginian’s blood drive being held in partnership with the American Red Cross, from 1-7 p.m. Tuesday in the Fairmont Senior High School cafeteria.

That face is of Sandra Gaston, mother of Barb Gaston, the art director for the newspaper. Sandra was diagnosed with neuroendocrine cancer in the spring. After several months of fighting the disease, including blood transfusions, Sandra passed away earlier this month.

Tuesday’s blood drive is being held in Sandra’s memory.

“The doctor would take her blood before the chemo treatments every time, and he would say, ‘You’re low. We need to start a transfusion,’” Barb Gaston explained. “She would go to chemo and then go for a blood transfusion.”

The difference in how her mother felt before and after the transfusions was remarkable, Gaston said.

Sandra Gaston is one face. Think of how many others.

The American Red Cross must collect almost 17,000 pints of blood for patients every day at nearly 3,000 hospitals, transfusion centers and drives across the country, a shortfall of 50,000 creates a critical need. Every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs a blood transfusion.

People — kind, giving people who don’t mind giving up only an hour or so of their time to donate — are the only answer.

“It helps save lives; that’s the bottom line,” Cheryl Gergely, communications manager for the American Red Cross, said. “The only source for blood and blood products is people who come in and donate blood. There’s no drug or medication that can substitute for it. It has to come from a live, human donor who takes the time to help save lives.”

The need is at the critical stage. Early this month, the American Red Cross issued an emergency request for blood donations. Many fewer donors than expected gave blood during June and the first week of July. Donations were down by 10 percent in June, resulting in about 50,000 fewer donations than expected.

Please, if you can, continue the Marion County tradition of helping others by scheduling a time to donate blood on Tuesday.

“It’s an opportunity for the community to ‘Come Get Stuck with Chuck,’” Times West Virginian Publisher Chuck Jessup said.

The goal of the blood drive is to provide the American Red Cross with 100 units of blood to distribute to patients in need — and to make the donation experience as pleasant as possible.

“We’re going to be set up with plenty of nurses, and we’re going to have some good food,” Jessup said. Pepperoni rolls and cookies will be available as refresh­ments, courtesy of Country Club Bakery.

Jessup will be the first to give blood at Tuesday’s event. Times West Virginian Managing Editor Misty Poe will be the last of the day.

“What has always impressed me about Marion County is that people stand up when there is a need and fill that need, whether it be volunteering, donating or financially supporting a cause,” Poe said. “I don’t think this blood drive will be any different.

“So many people are touched by donation of blood, from acci­dent victims to people with life-­threatening conditions and dis­eases.

“Chuck has signed up to be the very first person donating blood, and I’ve taken the last time slot of the day. I have no doubt that at least 123 of Marion County’s residents will fill the time slots between. This com­munity gives back.”

You can register for a time slot by contacting Poe at 304-367-2523 or mpoe@timeswv.com.

Think of the smile that will come to your face knowing you’ve done your part to help — as well as the faces of those who need help and can get it from no other source than generous people.

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