Ethan Reiss, 12, of Somonauk, can tell you why giving blood is so important — especially for kids like him. Ethan has been battling cancer since he was 4 years old, receiving more than 150 blood transfusions during two bouts with the deadly disease.
Through chemotherapy treatment, radiation therapy and blood transfusions, he went into remission. His family was devastated when two years later, the cancer returned. Once again, Ethan endured chemotherapy, radiation and received blood transfusions to replace the blood cells that were destroyed as part of his treatment.
Patty Reiss, Ethan’s mother, recalls the toll the chemo and radiation had on her son.
“They would give him a blood transfusion, and it was like giving him life,” she said. “He would perk up and color would instantly come back into his face. He was full of energy and full of life again, all thanks to the wonderful, giving blood donors.”
Besides red cells and platelets, Ethan received numerous plasma transfusions. Plasma is crucial not only to cancer patients, but for patients suffering from a host of life-threatening conditions, including hemophilia, shock or trauma, immune deficiencies and other blood disorders. Plasma is also used in cardiac surgery, organ transplants, burn treatment and to prevent hemolytic diseases in newborns.
While Heartland has reported a need for donors of all blood types for plasma donation, those with AB blood are especially needed.
Dennis Mestrich, president and CEO of Heartland Blood Centers, reports an increased need for plasma donors.
“There are patients, like Ethan, who require plasma products to survive,” he said. “Remember during this busy holiday season to take the time to donate blood. Patients need blood 365 days a year, even on Christmas day. We count on our community members to give the ‘gift of life’ to have the blood needed for these critically ill patients.”
There are many opportunities to donate blood this holiday season at a Heartland center or mobile blood drive. Heartland Blood Centers is an independent not-for-profit blood center serving 49 hospitals in a 12-county region in Illinois and Indiana.
All donors receive free mini-medical exams on site and information about their temperature, pulse rate, blood pressure and hemoglobin level.
Visit www.heartlandbc.org for locations or a community blood drive near you. Blood donors must be at least 17 years old, or 16 with written parental permission; weigh at least 110 pounds; be symptom free of cold, flu and allergies; and be in general good health. Donors who have traveled outside the United States within the past 12 months should contact Heartland at 1-800-7TO-GIVE to determine eligibility.
Make an appointment at www.heartlandbc.org for most of the following blood drives during December (photo identification is usually required):
Dec. 7 — 7:30 to 11:30 a.m. at St. Elizabeth Seton, 2220 Lisson Road
Dec. 9 — 3:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Grace United Methodist Church, 300 E. Gartner Road
Dec. 12 — 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Best Western Naperville Inn, 1617 Naperville Road. Call Maripat at 630-505-0200, ext. 7100.
Dec. 14 — 7 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at St. Raphael Catholic Church, 1215 Modaff Road
Dec. 17 — 3:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Book Road Baptist Church, 2012 Wicklow Road
Dec. 22 — Noon to 2 p.m. at Grace For Life Bible Church, 7s201 S. River Road
Dec. 30 — 3 to 7 p.m. at Community United Methodist Church, 20 N. Center St.