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The Journal Gazette

Wednesday, February 06, 2019 5:10 pm

K's, Red Cross holding blood drive to honor trainer's daughter

JUSTIN A. COHN | The Journal Gazette

The American Red Cross is holding a blood drive Feb. 17 – 3:30 to 7:30 p.m. – in honor of Makayla Willett, the daughter of Komets athletic trainer Matt Willett.

It will be at Memorial Coliseum.

The first 30 people with pre-registered appointments to donate at this blood drive will receive free tickets to the Komets’ game that night.

Those who go to give at the blood drive will also receive a voucher for a buy-one-get-one-free ticket for a future Komets game.

Makayla, 5, is happy, smiles, loves to dance, bowls and, of course, loves the Komets.

At 3, she was diagnosed with immune thrombocytopenic purpura, a disease that limits her production of platelets, which are critical to clotting and stopping bleeding. Living with the disease means dealing with easily bruising and cuts that are slow to heal. Her platelet count increases and decreases at random and must be regularly checked and monitored. Makayla has received platelet transfusions and plasma injections to survive, and will need more as treatment continues.

“We want to raise awareness about this disease and would love to see the community giving blood to help patients like Makayla,” Matt Willett said.

This blood drive comes as the Red Cross is recovering from a severe blood shortage in January.

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

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 2,600 hospitals nationwide, including 80 hospitals in Indiana.