Westlake blood drive honors infant saved by donation

Benjamin Aholt, pictured here at three months old, nearly died from medical complications days after he was born. A blood transfusion saved his life and now his family is hosting a blood drive to help others.

Our family is hosting a blood donation drive with the American Red Cross as a way to pay it forward for saving our sweet infant family member. The drive will be held on Tuesday, Jan. 3, from 2-8 p.m. at the Westlake Recreation Center.

As a nurse, I have administered blood transfusions to others in effort to help save lives and stabilize patients. This is something health care providers do every day and sometimes I think we overlook how important it really is.

In August 2016 I was reminded of this when my four-day-old nephew, Benjamin Aholt, nearly died from complications of medical problems and undiagnosed severe Hemophilia B. I am so grateful that the pediatric intensive care unit staff took care of him and he received several units of blood and blood products and was able to make a good recovery. Now he is a growing boy! Ben's struggle won’t end soon; he will need a special helmet and knee and elbow pads to protect him while he learns to crawl and walk. Later, when he is big enough, he will have a port placed for life-saving infusions of clotting factors and medications any time he is injured.

In the spirit of the holidays, I wanted to share our story and encourage you to sign up to give something precious – your blood. Not just for Baby Ben, but for all of our patients, our families, our communities, and each other. You may have had a loved one need blood. This is a great way to honor them and pay it forward.

Ben's cousins – Grant Junkins, who is a Boy Scout and eighth-grader at Lee Burneson Middle School; Avery Junkins, who is a Girl Scout and sixth-grader at Dover Intermediate School; and Carter Junkins, who is a Boy Scout and second-grader at Dover Elementary – wanted to do more! They wanted to work with the Red Cross and promote blood donation to see how many donors we can get to help save others.

Our goal is to get more than 24 donors. I am confident that we can achieve this goal and get many more. Every donor will get a Red Cross T-shirt and some cookies. My sister hopes to bring Ben to the drive too. We are forever grateful someone donated blood that saved Ben.

The Red Cross continues to be in a critical blood shortage. If you'd like to start the New Year out right, please consider signing up by calling 1-800-Red Cross, or online at redcrossblood.org.

Kelli Junkins

Westlake resident, wife, nurse, mother of 3, and avid Boy Scout, Cub scout, and Girl Scout volunteer

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Volume 8, Issue 24, Posted 10:10 AM, 12.13.2016