Blood drive to bring awareness to state blood shortage

By DEMETRIUS THOMPSON,

On Sunday, Clarke Venable Baptist Church in Decatur will host a blood drive to help a young local man who is battling a rare condition called aplastic anemia and to bring awareness to the state’s blood shortage.

Bryden Reed was diagnosed with the condition recently and has been receiving treatment at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson.

According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, aplastic anemia is a blood disorder in which the body’s bone marrow doesn’t make enough new blood cells. Bone marrow is a sponge-like tissue inside the bones. It makes stem cells that develop into red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. When a person’s bone marrow can’t make enough new blood cells, many health problems can occur including irregular heartbeats, an enlarged heart, heart failure, infections, and bleeding. Severe aplastic anemia can even cause death.

It can also lead to a weakened immune system, making it harder to fight off illnesses, especially during flu season.

Bryden’s mother, Melesia, helped organize the blood drive and said that she and her family didn’t know much about the disorder until he was diagnosed.

“It did take them over a week to diagnosed him because the symptoms are similar to leukemia, so they really have to have a good sample of bone marrow and go through many tests to make the judgement call of whether it is a certain kind of leukemia or aplastic anemia,” Melesia said. “It is a relief that it’s not leukemia because that is more serious, but it’s still a very serious situation because he can’t be around large groups of people just because he can’t fight off any illnesses.”

Bryden goes to UMMC two to three times a week to receive treatment that may include blood transfusions, magnesium and platelets transfusions. Melesia said there have been a few times that the hospital has ran out of blood and platelets to treat patients and that is what prompted her to host a local blood drive.

“You don’t think how serious something like that is until you go through it,” she said. “I don’t think people realize, and I certainly didn’t, what a shortage there is. Lots of people that are in need can’t receive what they need because there isn’t any.”

The Reeds, who are members of Clarke Venable, spoke with Pastor Mark Vincent who thought it would be a great idea to have the drive at the church, and when Melesia found out that Mississippi Blood Services does host drives on Sunday, she thought that would be the perfect day.

“We thought it would be a convenient time because so many people would be coming into church that day and a lot of people don’t have quite as much going on Sunday afternoon, so maybe they would be willing and have the time available to give blood,” she said.

The drive will last from noon to 5 p.m., which Melesia said would allow for donors to give whether they are attending the morning or evening services.

For more information about the drive or the state’s blood shortage, call the MBS at (888) 90-BLOOD (902-5663) or visit msblood.com