Community blood drive supports Brentwood patients

On Ground Hog Day the Brentwood “the City of Warmth” community came together for a common cause where love for one another was demonstrated. With the help of the American Red Cross staff and the families of Lilly LaMartina and Christopher Leahy a very successful blood drive was held.

The donators to this drive on Thursday assisted in restocking the St Louis-area blood bank; its current levels are so low the American Red Cross has issued an emergency call for blood and platelet donors to give now and help save lives.

More than 140 individuals took an hour out of their busy day and rolled up sleeves to help those in need. Not all had appointments, not all were able to give, but all do care for another. One hundred five productive units of whole blood were collected. These 105 units are already helping numerous patients in the Missouri-Illinois Blood Region.

Just one unit of blood can help as many as three people — each unit is separated into red cells, plasma and platelets. That means the units we drew at Brentwood Rec Center can help up to 315 individuals. If you were not able to make this drive the Red Cross holds others throughout the area and are happy to have you donate at any one of them. You can find a local drive by visiting “redcrossblood.org

The donors came from Brentwood, Webster, Kirkwood, Olivette, Clayton, Maplewood and other areas to help support the two families and the two patients; to show they care and to let Lily and Chris know they are not alone in this.

One donor worked with Chris 20 years ago as a life guard at the Webster Groves pool and remembers working with Chris to move a family of ducks that were trying to establish the pool area as their nesting grounds. She wanted to let Chris know she was thinking of him and wanted to help even after 20+ years. Others came from the DeSmet basketball gatherings.

Both Lily and Chris are fighting leukemia, and like other cancer patients they need blood transfusions to help their bodies fight infections while undergoing chemo. At times their  treatments take their own white blood cell counts so low they are not able to fend off simple germs and thus complicate their treatments and endanger their lives. The donors joined them in this fight by giving.

During chemo treatments the poison is injected thru chest tubes to run throughout their bodies attacking the cancer cells and at times healthy cells; to try to gain the upper hand in the treatment. This makes them nauseous and makes their bodies burn.

But when others actively support their needs it gives encouragement and brings joy and tears to the patients and families. They know they are not alone and encourages them to continue.

The community is also supporting Lily and Chris with daily and weekly prayers, meals and cards of encouragement.  Over 63 cards were collected during this blood drive along with a Teddy bear for Lily. The blood drive also helped the American Red Cross complete their mission to make blood available.

Chris noted there were 34 other cancer patients on the hospital floor when he was  admitted to Siteman in July. He said, “All of them have fear of the disease they are fighting, hope and plan to beat the disease, and have a need for prayers and blood, to be successful.”

St. Mary Magdalen, Immaculata, Mount Calvary Lutheran Church, Brentwood Congregational, Holy Redeemer Church, New Beginnings Bible Church, McKnight Crossings Church and The Rock Church of St Louis advertised the blood drive.  The Pulse, Webster Kirkwood Times and the Brentwood Chamber carried articles, and local business posted fliers to get the word out. It was also promoted on NextDoor and 40 South.

With the help of the Brentwood city administration, aldermen and parks department two rooms were made available.

Without all the support this drive would not have been possible. It truly was a COMMUNITY of WARMTH and the families do feel your love. THANK YOU all for making a difference!!

For those that wish to donate the American Red Cross still has a need.  You may contact them at “redcrossblood.org” or call 1-800-733-2767

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