July 28, 2004
Hospital employees donate blood to honor inspirational volunteer
By Lisa Uzzle Gates
Health and Research News Service
JACKSON, Miss.—Methodist Rehabilitation Center employees will strive to donate 55 pints of blood this Thursday, July 29, a mission that hospital volunteer Jerry Bowles helped inspire.
That’s exactly how much blood it took to keep Bowles alive after a traumatic accident in 2000.
Even before his accident, Bowles was a regular blood donor and is one of nine Mississippians featured in an advertising campaign for Mississippi Blood Services.
So employees at Methodist considered it only fitting to honor the dedicated volunteer by rolling up their sleeves and donating a pint.
“Jerry is one of those people, and we see them often here at Methodist Rehab, who has taken a very tragic situation and made the best of it,” said Mark A. Adams, president and CEO, of the Jackson hospital. “And he continues doing that, by offering of himself to two of the institutions that got him through that difficult time, Methodist Rehab and Mississippi Blood Services.”
Bowles was hit by a car on the side of the interstate after stopping to help someone else who had been in an accident. He lost massive amounts of blood that night as paramedics worked to stabilize him and get him to the hospital, and then as doctors performed emergency surgery to remove one of his legs. He needed more blood days later when they were forced to remove the remaining leg.
When the call went out for blood donors on his behalf, Mississippi Blood Services received 110 pints, double the amount it took to keep Bowles alive. He didn’t miss the irony of the fact that he was a regular blood donor himself. “I always understood there might come a time that I would need blood, but I never imagined it would be like that,” Bowles recalls.
It’s traumas like Bowles that make it so important to have a safe amount of blood on hand, said Wendy Copeland, public relations and communications manager for Mississippi Blood Services. While the service can anticipate the blood needs of people such as cancer patients (who may use as many as eight pints of blood a week), a trauma may be the unexpected event that puts the blood supply in a precarious position.
“The real challenge is also being prepared for an emergency because it takes at least 24 hours to process a unit of blood. All blood must under go strict tests, so it may take a while before it can be released. It's great to donate when you know someone needs the blood, but it has to be there when they need it, often without notice,” Copeland said. “Summer is a difficult time for blood donations. People are traveling and regular donors are on vacation or out of their routine. However, with increased travel, there is often an increase in accidents. We normally go into high schools and of course we are not able to do that in the summer.”
The Methodist Rehab blood drive is from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday, July 29 in the hospital’s main conference room on the second floor in the atrium mall. Bowles will give blood at 11 a.m.