The Norman Transcript

December 22, 2012

Blood donation is true gift of the heart

By Caitlin Schudalla
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — For many, the holiday season means vacation, travel and putting day-to-day activities on hold, but for those relying on blood transfusions, the daily need doesn’t go away.

Leslie Gamble, director of community relations for the Oklahoma Blood Institute, said that the holidays pose a major challenge for maintaining an adequate blood supply, as many habitual donors take a break to travel or simply forget because of the season’s hustle and bustle.

“Blood isn’t something we can stockpile, and because there is no substitute, the supply must constantly be renewed,” Gamble said.

Norman residents will have the opportunity to show their holiday giving spirit by participating in the Norman Regional Health System Blood Drive 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, at the Education Cente, 901 N. Porter.

In addition to receiving an OBI ball cap and Donor Rewards Points (redeemable at the OBI’s online store), donors can help save the lives and expedite the healing of countless patients, such as 7-year-old leukemia survivor, Abby Riggs.

“Abby was barely hanging on for a year and almost died twice,” Abby’s father, Brent Riggs, said. “Once she started chemo, the transfusions were so important to both battling the disease and helping her immunity.”

Diagnosed with leukemia, a cancer of the blood, at the age of 4, Abby received 44 blood transfusions — including during the holidays — over the course of her two-year illness.

Abby has been cancer-free for some time, and Riggs said she is now a happy, energetic kid with a love for sports and crafts.

Riggs and his family adopted Abby from Guatemala as an infant, and he said she is lucky to have been in the United States, and particularly in Oklahoma during her illness.

“Having access to our healthcare and blood transfusions was quite fortunate for her, had she been in Guatemala, the cancer would have taken her life,” Riggs said.

Donors at Wednesday’s drive may elect to forego their ball cap to donate to the Global Blood Fund, aiding blood transfusion needs internationally.

Those unable to donate in the blood drive can still off-set the holiday shortage by donating between Dec. 26 and January 5. Information on local blood donation centers and their respective hours of operation can be found at www.obi.org.

For local news and more, subscribe to The Norman Transcript Smart Edition, or our print edition.