By Lindsay Doty
Just three days after she was born, tiny Mariah Roberts was in a fight for her life. The little girl was diagnosed with sickle cell disease, an inherited blood disorder predominantly found in people of African descent that can be deadly.
Luckily, Mariah received two blood transfusions in Indiana that eased her pain and cleared up her complications, according to the Versiti Blood Center of Indiana. Her parents, Chris and Tamara, who were dedicated blood donors before Mariah’s birth, are now spreading the word about the importance of blood donation, especially in the African-American community. “It’s our duty to donate blood,” says Mariah’s mom, Tamara. “We take it upon ourselves that somebody helped our daughter, so now we do it in return.”
The Roberts family is just one example of the importance of blood donation. Since the pandemic, blood centers have been reporting a critical shortage in the supply, including Versiti Blood Center of Indiana, the blood products supplier to more than 90 hospital partners throughout Indiana, including hospitals in Hendricks County.
“Due to the continued impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Versiti’s mobile blood collections are down more than 16,000 units of blood this year, with more than 4,500 units in Indiana alone,” said Kristin Paltzer, public relations manager of Versiti. “To maintain a three-day supply of lifesaving blood, Versiti needs on average 10,500 donors per week across its footprint, with more than 2,300 needed in Indiana.”
To get numbers up, the center encourages community blood drivers. On Nov. 5, the organization will team up with Kemper CPA Group in Avon to host a drive Nov. 5 in their office parking lot off Dan Jones Road. Turning a New Leaf Fall into Giving will help support the fight against cancer.
“As we move into the season of Thanksgiving, we decided to look at the immediate needs in our community and causes that are currently close to the hearts of our people,” said Carrie Hanni of Kemper CPA Group. “We have chosen to recognize the tragedies and battles of those faced with cancer. In support of those we decided it would be helpful to host a blood drive here at our office. We are hoping to pack the bus here on Nov. 5 as blood is so critical to cancer patients and in such a shortage right now,” said Hanni.
The event will run from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. and will include food and fellowship. Masks will be required inside the bloodmobile.
“Community blood drives are extremely important to our lifesaving mission, allowing us to reach more donors outside of a fixed site,” added Paltzer.
Businesses, churches and local organizations in Hendricks County have all continued to help with the cause.
Locations like the Brownsburg Public Library host blood drives for the center every six to eight weeks.
“One of the ways the community can solve the blood shortage is by having periodic blood drives,” said Sobia Khan, adult information services assistant at Brownsburg Public Library.
She says the local public library is the perfect place because two of their goals are community outreach and education.
“By hosting blood drives, we are accomplishing both these goals with one event. The bottom line is, we need to get as many people as possible to donate whenever they can. The library is one place where they can do that easily,” said Khan.
Turning a New Leaf Fall into Giving Blood Drive
When:10 a.m.- 3 p.m. Nov. 5
Where: Kemper CPA Group parking lot, 625 S. Dan Jones Road, Avon
What: Blood drive, cookout and fellowship.
Masks required inside bloodmobile
Call (317) 839-9136
Can’t donate? Bring paper goods for Family Promise of Hendricks County