The Randle and Watkins families, in conjunction with the Second Baptist Church Health Ministry, are working together again to sponsor the 9th American Red Cross blood drive in honor of 15-year-old Vallejo resident Tyra Watkins, who suffers from sickle cell anemia.
The blood drive will be held on May 31 from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The American Red Cross is asking eligible donors to make giving blood a part of their summer plans as much as barbecues, ball games and road trips.
“A seasonal slump in blood and platelet donations typically begins with Memorial Day, the unofficial start of summer,” said Sara O’Brien, communications manager, Northern California Blood Services Region. “Schools out of session, family vacations and busier schedules all contribute to less time for donors to give. But, patients like Tyra, don’t get a summer break from needing blood.”
Tyra’s struggle with sickle cell anemia has caused her to endure multiple blood transfusions in the past. So many, in fact, that now she can receive only very specific blood that has been matched beyond the traditional ABO typing. Her struggle and pain has inspired her family and friends to sponsor blood drives in her honor. The good news is that Tyra has been hospital-stay free for approximately one year.
“It was very hard to see Tyra go through pain because of her disease. She’s a trooper though. I really admire her,” her great-aunt Eileen Randle said. “Without people donating blood to provide her with transfusions, she would always be in pain.”
Since April 2012, a total of 224 pints of blood have been collected at drives held in Tyra’s honor. Each pint can potentially help save up to three lives. These pints may have helped to save more than 650 people.
The blood drive will be held at Second Baptist Church, 1170 Benicia Road in Vallejo. It is open to the public and donors are encouraged to sign-up in advance.
Call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767), visit redcrossblood.org (enter sponsor code: TYRABTT) or contact Eileen Randle at (707) 315-1900 to schedule an appointment.
Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental permission), meet height and weight requirements (at least 110 pounds based on height), and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. For more information, contact Sara O’Brien at (510) 821-1200.