Blood drive organized by family honors local woman

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SOUTH CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) Every two seconds, someone in the United States needs blood. So each day, the Red Cross needs to collect about 13,000 blood donations to meet the need. That was difficult during the height of the pandemic.

Now, more people are coming to community events to donate that life saving gift.

Dozens of people came to a blood drive in South Charleston to celebrate the life of a woman known to most there as Maw Maw.

“She is such a wonderful woman that we are always being asked can we give blood for her,” said Siobhan Gerhart, one of the organizers. “So to do this in her honor is something that she is so excited about.”

“Maw Maw” whose name is Ellen Ferrell is in hospice at the end stages of a disease known as MDS, a form of blood cancer. The blood donated at Wednesday’s event won’t go to her but will help others.

At the height of COVID-19 many community driven donation events weren’t possible. That made it difficult to meet the demand for donated blood.

“A lot of our donations, 80% of them come from volunteer run blood drives in communities including at schools and other locations that were sometimes closed down to the public,” explained Erica Mani, Chief Executive Officer at American Red Cross West Virginia. “So now we are seeing more drives.”

Now that people are getting vaccinated part of the check in process when people come to donate will include answering questions about the COVID vaccine.

“If you are coming to donate blood please know that you can donate with most vaccines. But we want to be sure that we know the manufacture of the vaccine that has been given to you so that will be a question that it is important to know the answer. If you don’t know what vaccine you received then there may be a deferral period for 2 weeks which otherwise wouldn’t be necessary,” Mani said.

And as they get back to having volunteer events like the the one honoring Maw Maw more people are thankful to be able to help others in their time of need.

“They are willing to give back a piece of them to support her and all of the other lives that the blood donations will give,” Gerhart said.

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