Church to host blood drive in honor of student with sickle cell

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Eric Boone

The community is invited to give blood in honor of Eric Boone, Jr. at a special American Red Cross blood drive held in his name Sunday, January 19 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Tree of Life Missionary Baptist Church, 2323 West 11th Ave. in Gary.

Eric, a 14-year-old honor student at Block Middle School in East Chicago, loves playing football and basketball, and attends Tree of Life Missionary Baptist Church in Gary, where his father is pastor. He was diagnosed with sickle cell disease at birth, a blood disorder that affects 80,000 people nationwide. He has received countless blood transfusions during ongoing treatment of the disease and will need more.

The Boone family knows how important blood donations are for people with a chronic illness. “Eric has been a blood recipient many times,” said Tereka Boone, Eric’s mother. “Therefore, we want to be able to help others the same way our son was helped by those who have donated blood.”

Eric had no complications from his sickle cell disease until he was four years old. At age five he had to have his spleen removed, and at age 13 his gall bladder was removed. Currently he requires regular checkups to monitor his disease.

“Eric is not the average 14-year-old due to his illness, but he is a fighter,” said Tereka. “We would love to see people from all over come to give blood in Eric’s honor to help us help others in need.”

“There are so many reasons why someone may need blood that we don’t even realize,” said Ashley Holland, donor recruitment account manager for the Red Cross. “We take for granted that blood and blood products will be there at the hospital when we need it, but it can only come from generous volunteer donors. Giving blood in Eric’s name is a wonderful way to honor him and potentially help others.”

January is National Blood Donor Month to help boost donations at a time when many factors cause a decrease in blood donations, including cold and flu season, busy holiday schedules, inclement weather and blood drive cancellations. The Red Cross critically needs donors of all blood types − especially type O – to give now and help ensure patients continue to receive the treatments they need this winter.

Every two seconds in the United States blood is needed to respond to patient emergencies, including accident and burn victims, heart surgery and organ transplant patients, and those receiving treatment for leukemia, cancer or sickle cell disease. The Red Cross must collect more than 13,000 blood and platelet donations every day for the patients at about 2,500 hospitals nationwide, including 80 hospitals in Indiana.

How to donate blood

Simply download the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit RedCrossBlood.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or enable the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device to make an appointment or for more information. All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.

Blood and platelet donors can save time at their next donation by using RapidPass® to complete their pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of their donation, before arriving at the blood drive. To get started, follow the instructions at RedCrossBlood.org/RapidPass or use the Blood Donor App which teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.

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