Blood center needs the Panhandle's help

Summer has arrived but as temperatures go up, blood donations are going down. Coffee Memorial Blood Center reported a shortage of blood donations for many of the blood types needed in the area.

"We need about 600 donations a week to meet the need and right now for the last few weeks we've been drawing about 500," said Coffee Memorial Blood Center President and CEO, Joe McCormick. "We're looking at about a one day supply of many of the blood types within our region."

The Center is in critical need of donations of all blood types except AB, although all donations are welcome. McCormick aid that's not an uncommon problem during the summertime.

"People are busy with vacation and other activities so they forget to come in and donate," he said. "It's kind of a double problem because blood usage at the same time is even higher during the summertime due to accidents and other issues that require blood transfusions."

In Levi Knebusch's case, it wasn't an accident that made him realize just how important blood transfusions are. It was his daughter, Madison. She was diagnosed with an extremely rare form of cancer in 2012.

"She had to have numerous blood transfusions after chemotherapy," Knebusch explained. "She had five surgeries that she had to have blood products for."

It was those critical blood transfusions, her father said, that made a world of difference in Madison's physical and mental health during some of the hardest times of her life.

"She just didn't want to get up, she didn't want to move, she didn't really want to eat," said Knebusch. "Then she would get a blood transfusion and she was a completely different person. She'd come in the door dancing around, she wanted to go out with her friends and do all those kinds of things. It gave her the strength to continue fighting," he added.

Still fighting cancer, Madison passed away in January 2012, but her father said he'll continue donating blood teo help the many others that may still be fighting.

"It really was because the importance that I learned through her," he said. "The importance of how she reacted to it after she got it, how different she was, how energetic and vital is was to her. It's the single most important thing we can do."

"I know of nothing else that a person can do that costs only some of their time, about an hour, that can have such a tremendous impact on another person," added McCormick. "Such a life-changing impact."