A unit of blood can help someone survive life-threatening illnesses and accidents. Rupert Ellis, 62, of Hellshire Park in Portmore, St Catherine is one example of a cancer survivor and blood recipient who is saying thanks to his blood donors this evening.
Diagnosed with multiple myeloma (bone marrow cancer) in 2015, long time Hellshire resident and founding elder of Hellshire Seventh Day Adventist Church has been fighting cancer that destroys his vital red blood cells (these are the cells that make blood in the body) and bone marrow. This condition landed him hard in the hospital preceding his diagnosis and has since caused his blood count to fluctuate to dangerous levels.
Recounting his story to Portmore Citizens News recently, Mr. Ellis recalled that during his hospital stay, his doctor’s diagnosis made the future look grim. It appeared that the spectre of death loomed over him, he reminisced.
However, with the donations of kind blood donors, a resilient faith in God, and an indomitable and cheerful spirit, he and his doctor fought valiantly to increase his blood count.
His health rallied and he was able to regain his strength and an active lifestyle.
So much so that in September 2016, his doctors felt it was safe enough to cut back on his treatment.
However, while there were some improvements, he noted that the side effects were less than healthy. Eventually, he discontinued some of his treatment.
Then the tables turned. At a subsequent visit, he learnt that this decision had not produced the results hoped for and had sent his blood count into a downward spiral (falling below 5). This renewed his struggle with his cancer. Deeply discouraged, he told me during a visit with him late in December, “I got down on my knees at my bedside and cried tears to God.”
To make things worse, his doctor was coming up short in her search to find O Negative blood for him. Things looked hopeless. He had donors but none were O Negative blood donations.
A Campaign to find the Missing Type
It was Mr. Ellis’ story and current situation that inspired my creation of the O Negative Blood Donation Network Facebook Group on December 26, 2016. The intent was to create a campaign that would launch an Appeal for more O Negative blood donations, not only for Mr. Ellis but others facing a similar crisis.
The main aim of the Group is to provide and build a community for persons with O Negative blood. Posts will increase awareness about blood types. Hopefully, we will be able to match needs to donors, inform more people about blood donors eligibility, the blood collection process. Members will be kept abreast of voluntary donation opportunities like blood collection drives, weekly local and national blood bank reserves data. We also hope to convert non-donors into first-time blood donors, and one -time donors into repeat donors.
By sharing receivers’ stories, it is hoped that the Campaign will persuade the public that blood donation requires a personal commitment that starts with each person signing up as a volunteer and life saver. The mission is to increase blood donations of this universal O Negative resource at the community and neighbourhood levels inside and outside of Portmore and provide inspiration and support for those who are ill and need blood donations.
Blood donor prospects and members can sign up to donate using a form posted in the Facebook Group’s Files. This information will be collated and passed on to the relevant collection centres or Drive organizer identified by prospects.
The initiative will be adopted and promoted as a grassroots cause by Portmore Citizen’s News published by blogger and Group administrator, Karen Taylor.
Transfusions Bring Improvement
In the last month, Mr. Ellis has had approximately two transfusions from blood received from the hospital’s blood stocks and friends. The scramble to find more for him continues at the hospital level.
Speaking with him this afternoon, Mr. Ellis reported positive news and steady progress following these gifts of blood. His blood count has been inching up and now stands at seven, he reported. To help his body halt his receding bone marrow, he needs to maintain a blood count level of 14.
Expensive New Treatment to cost $130,000 Monthly
He also shared plans by his doctor to start another intervention which, if successful, could help put his cancer into recession. This will, however, cost $J130,000 per month, an expense he says one of his daughters has made a commitment to underwrite. He is especially grateful for a discount offered by the treatment provider to make two of the injections available free of cost when two purchases are made. He will require this dosage monthly.
Until this treatment begins to rebuild his body’s ability to fight on its own, Mr. Ellis will need your gift of O negative blood. Blood donations of this type can be made to his account at the blood Collection centre at the UWI Hospital, Mona.
So What If I’m not an O -Type?
If you are not O Negative, but have another blood type, you can still donate to his account, but ensure you ask for a receipt from the collection drive staff or centre where you are donating. You can then send him the receipt so the Blood Bank at the Hospital can do an exchange when he needs a transfusion.
The collection of this receipt with his name on it is crucial for him to benefit from your gift to him. To send him the receipt, make contact by sending a message to Mr. Ellis or me via this blog’s contact form page or the Facebook Group so arrangements can be made to receive the receipt.
Blood is a gift of life. All around Jamaica every day and even at this very second, are people like Mr. Ellis needing a blood donation; people in accidents, mothers in labour wards, babies who need a unit to save their lives. Help save someone’s life today with a donation of your blood.
Have you given before? Consider making a repeat donation by joining the Facebook Group and using the membership form and sign up forms found in Group Files to make your commitment of blood.
Are you a first timer? Learn more about the process by following this blog. Don’t know your blood type? You could learn what that is by participating in an upcoming blood drive or stopping by a Collection Centre.
Set aside time to donate today. Save the date to save lives, receive your own account, and pay it forward. Join us. Open a Neighbourhood Blood Bank in your community. Make Blood reserves for your family, friends, and neighbours when they need it.
All Rights Reserved. Copyright 2017. Karen Taylor