It all started when Sue Stein and Tommy Ellison got together before leaving for the stem cell transplants they needed in their battle against cancer. They wanted to do something to increase awareness of the need for stem cell donors and the new technology that had simplified the procedure.
Within a few days of meeting with Amy Jackman at the Kenai Peninsula Blood Bank of Alaska Center, a date in August had been selected and fliers started appearing around the community. Getting new donors to turn out was only part of the need; stem cell testing is expensive and costs $65.00 for each donor. Once again responding to community needs, corporate neighbors were quick to step up to the plate and BP offered a $2,500 match for any donation made for the drive. With generous contributions by Unocal, Soldotna and Kenai Rotary Clubs, $4,000 was quickly raised to cover the costs for processing the blood given by donors.
When the day of the drive arrived the Lutheran Church in Soldotna was deluged with donors, and the drive had to be extended for another day to accommodate those who were standing in line to give the gift of life. Over 128 people showed up and 120 qualified to be added to the National Bone Marrow Registry. Additionally 70 good units of blood were donated to be used at hospitals around Alaska and locally on the Kenai Peninsula.
Both Sue and Tommy were out of state and under going treatment the day of the drive, but when they heard the news they were excited and extremely appreciative to the community for responding to their request. "It did Sue a world of good when she heard the news," said Sue's husband George. "On behalf of the Blood Bank of Alaska Kenai Peninsula Center I would like to extend a very warm thank you to the many people and organizations that made the August Blood/Stem Cell drive a huge success story, as well as my great admiration for Tommy and Sue. The drive inspired us all. The story and the need continues, new drives are scheduled, so please remember to give the gift of life, and donate blood." Said Jackman. For more information or a schedule of events contact the Blood Bank at 260-5672.
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