Blood Drive Holds Special Meaning for SUNY Sullivan Staff Member

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Kathleen Birkett and her brother Michael during their final visit

On Wednesday, October 2nd, from 10am to 4pm, SUNY Sullivan, in partnership with New York Blood Center, will be holding a Blood Drive in the Student Union. For SUNY Sullivan staff member Kathleen Birkett, it has special meaning.

When she began chairing the college’s blood drives about twenty years ago, Kathleen never could have imagined how critical blood donation would one day become to her. But then, two years ago, her brother Michael, a native of Pine Bush, New York, was diagnosed with leukemia. Individuals diagnosed with leukemia often see the disease interfere with the normal production of red cells, white cells and platelets in the bone marrow. Additionally, many chemotherapy drugs can temporarily impair blood cell production in the marrow and depress immune system functions.

As a result, many leukemia patients require regular blood transfusions. In the case of Kathleen’s brother, that meant a transfusion every couple of weeks. On average, a single transfusion requires three pints of donated blood, which means it takes the generosity of three donors to supply each transfusion.

Ultimately, Michael lost his battle with leukemia this summer, but Kathleen remains grateful.

“I am so thankful,” she says, “for the numerous transfusions he received this past year that helped him through this illness and enabled him to be with us longer.”

Her message to potential donors?

“You can help others by donating.”

So please, if you are able, consider attending the October 2nd blood drive. You never know whose life you may save.