Monday, January 01, 2001

Blood center promotes replacement drives

Transfusion patients attract donors

By Tim Bonfield
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        When doctors said 9-year-old Mark Meyer of Groesbeck would need a liver transplant, many friends and relatives asked what they could do to help.

        Rather than accepting money, Mark's parents asked people to give blood because his surgery likely would require transfusing at least 50 pints.

        With the help of Christ the Prince of Peace United Methodist Church, the family organized a Dec. 20 blood drive that attracted 93 people and collected 65 units of blood.

        “We thought, at least this is one thing we can do. I was really pleased with the turnout,” said Mark's mother, Julie Meyer.

        Such “patient replacement” blood drives are rare in Greater Cincinnati, and are usually done after a person receives a lot of blood, not before. Either way, the community could benefit if patient replacement drives happened more often, say officials with Hoxworth Blood Center.

        “We do about 50 a year. We'd love to have more,” said Meg Wilkens, director of donor recruitment.

        Hoxworth needs 350 volunteer donors a day to maintain blood supplies for 25 Tristate hospitals. However, the blood bank often falls short of that target, which forces it to buy blood from other cities and regularly call for emergency donor campaigns.

        Hoxworth estimates 200,000 people a year get some form of blood product, be it whole blood, or blood products like platelets or plasma. Only some try to replace the blood they used.

        “Some places, nurses ac tually place cards at the bedside to remind people that they received blood. A lot of times patients are never told they got blood,” Ms. Wilkens said. “But it's tricky to promote something like that because we don't want people to think they have to do it.”

        Even though blood may be given with a specific person in mind, patient replacement drives are pure community service, Ms. Wilkens said.

        The blood given in Mark Meyer's name won't be earmarked for him — much of it wouldn't match his blood type.

        The family, and its insurance plan, also will get no financial break on bills for blood transfusions Mark gets. Even though the donors were volunteers, it still costs money to draw it, test it, store it, transport it and transfuse it.

        Mrs. Meyer said she and family members understood this. The blood drive was part repayment of a commu nity resource and part emotional outlet; a way to give well-wishers something meaningful to do.

        Mark was diagnosed earlier this year with sclerosing cholangitis, a chronic liver disease that causes scarring of the organ. It is usually fatal within 10 years unless the patient gets a liver transplant.

        Mark has been placed on a transplant waiting list. Months ago, his family was told the wait could last from six months to two years. For now, Mark is well enough to live at home and play with his 5-year-old sister, Lauren.

        “He's not extremely sick right now. But his liver function is almost gone,” Mrs. Meyer said.

        They had the blood drive now, because the wait has been agonizing and no one knows how long it will take before the need for a transplant becomes critical.

        If Mark gets extremely sick before a donor liver be comes available, the family is considering a partial liver transplant, in which a parent would donate a portion of their own liver.

        Either way, the operation is likely to happen, and Mark will need the blood.

        As of Friday, Hoxworth was running about 200 units below ideal levels for type O blood. Other blood types were in good supply.

        For information, call 451-0910.

               COMING BLOOD DRIVES

        • 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday at Tri-County Mall. Annual blood drive sponsored by WCPO-TV (Channel 9).

        • 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Jan. 22 at Dearborn County Hospital, Lawrenceburg, Ind. Door prizes will be awarded.


        Information: Hoxworth Blood Center: 451-0910


What's In & What's Out
Peace Bell rings in its second new year
Portune vows to get a grip on county spending
14 frozen days equal icy record
Hoff era comes to a close at Xavier
Redistricting will help Chabot
People, issues to watch in 2001
Era of alignment for number wonks
Cincinnati has plenty of No. 1's
Ohio Assembly has fresh faces, new priorities
Ky. Assembly will make history
Legislature's first order of business - politics
- Blood center promotes replacement drives
Local Digest
Monument restored, ready for another century
Northside woman dies in blaze at residence
Obituary: Sister Mary Jacinta Shay
Schools step up teacher recruiting
Senior housing project set to go
You asked for it