Giving and receiving the gift of life one pint at a time

Thursday, July 29, 2010

While donors receive a pint of ice cream in return, organizers say it's their gift of life that's most important.

Beads on a necklace are very special to four-year-old Emmy Gutierrez ... for her each one represents a struggle and a triumph.

Emmy's mom, Kazy Gutierrez said, "She has a necklace that she gets a bead for every kind of procedure or hospital stay. She has 12 red beads which represents 12 blood transfusions."

Nearly a year ago when she was just three-years-old Emmy was diagnosed with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia or A-L-L. She may need blood transfusions at any time to fight the disease. Her family says it's been a life changing struggle.

Emmy's dad, Mark said, "It's shined a light on the necessity of giving blood."

This year Emmy is a featured guest at the annual pint for pint blood drive. Central California Blood Center President Dean Eller says every donation makes a huge difference for those who need it. "You're either going to save someone's life or prolong someone's life."

Eller knows this first hand -- his daughter Jenny passed away from Leukemia at the age of 21. The new blood center in Northwest Fresno is named after Jenny. Dean says it was transfusions that kept his daughter alive for four years after the diagnosis. "What that meant to the Eller family was four more birthdays's four more Christmas's."

Dean says available supplies can be depleted in an instant. For many like the Gutierrez family, young Emmy serves as an example of how important it is to have live saving blood available at all times.

Mark explains, "It's helped bring awareness at least to this community and helping spread that awareness is good."

The 23rd Annual Pint for Pint Blood Drive kick-off starts Friday morning at 8:00 a.m. There are three donation centers in Fresno. There's also one at the Sierra Vista Mall in Clovis and another on Mooney Boulevard in Visalia.

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childrens hospital central california, fresno county, fresno, clovis, tulare county, visalia, local, deshaunta bullock
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