Students at Sidney’s Lehman Catholic High School know they are helping saves lives when they roll up their sleeves and donate. But at the March 7 campus drive they could reach out and touch the classmate who is living proof of the value, immediacy and potential of their gift.
This was the second Community Blood Center (CBC) drive of the year at Lehman and by far the most successful. Student Council advisor Melissa Safreed credits the inspiration – and uncanny presence – of junior Richard Connor, the classmate who the drive was dedicated to as a “replacement” blood drive.
Richard was seriously injured in a single-vehicle crash on Feb. 12. Sidney Fire Department paramedics removed him from the wreckage and transported him to Wilson Memorial Hospital where he was immediately transferred by CareFlight to Miami Valley. Richard’s surgery took hours and he needed 29 units of blood. He had multiple fractures to the pelvic, rib, and vertebra and internal bleeding, a ruptured spleen and punctured lung. His doctors didn’t know if he would survive.
He made it through surgery then spent more than a week in the intensive care unit.
Richard is out of the hospital, but not yet released to return to school. That didn’t stop him from attending the blood drive and thanking donors face to face, including his father John and his older brother Devin, who both donated for the first time.
The Lehman drive was organized by CBC Shelby Co. Rep. Kathy Pleiman as a drive with the goal of “replacing” the blood needed to save Richard’s life. Staffing for the drive was increased to handle 100 appointments instead of the customary 72. The response was impressive with 101 registering to donate, including 29 first-time donors, and 84 units collected for 133% of goal.
“I asked the staff at CBC if they could ever remember a drive in which the person being honored was able to attend,” Pleiman told the Sidney Daily News. “Connor’s very presence and his thanking donors for the gift of life made this blood drive one we’ll all long remember.”
“We are used to our students stepping up when needed,” said Melissa Safreed. “We were able to increase the number of appointments and the number of pints collected because of Connor. “It is always rewarding when we know we are saving the lives of people who need blood but this definitely more personal when someone you know has benefited.
“The students were very emotional about this drive, knowing that pints of blood like the ones they donated saved the life of their classmate. We also thank the members of the community who contributed to our effort to give the gift of life.”