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Blood Drives Honor Former KWU Student

Todd PittengerApril 20, 2022

A couple of blood drives are being held to remember, and honor a former Kansas Wesleyan University student who was killed by a drunk driver.

According to the American Red Cross, Leah Jean-Lacher Reay touched many lives with her generosity and enthusiasm before her death in a crash with an intoxicated driver on Jan. 22, 2017.

Reay, a 2013 Kansas Wesleyan University Nursing Science graduate, worked for the Salina Regional Health Center and served as a mentor for Salina youth before moving home to California in 2015. As a nurse and a regular blood donor, Reay also understood the importance of blood donation.

“I think these annual drives are such a meaningful way to remember Leah,” said Kevin Reay, her husband. “She was such a giving person.”

You can join the Salina community in remembering Reay by donating blood at the annual American Red Cross blood drive held in her memory.

  • April 22, 12–6:30 p.m. at the Temple, 336 S. Santa Fe. For an appointment, please contact Yvonne at 785-452-7882.
  • April 29, 9 a.m.–3:30 p.m. at Kansas Wesleyan University Nursing Education Center, 135 E Claflin. For an appointment, please call Aidan at 817-727-7002 or 1-800 RED CROSS, or visit RedCrossBlood.org and search by code kwuleah.

Held since 2017, the Salina blood drives in memory of Leah Jean-Lacher Reay have collected around 200 total donations. The Red Cross Southern California Region also hosts a blood drive in Reay’s memory each year around her April 2 birthday. It regularly collects more than 70 donations.

Come to give blood, platelets or plasma April 19-May 19, 2022, and the Red Cross will say thanks with a $10 e-gift card to a merchant of your choice. PLUS, donors will also automatically be entered for a chance to win a new travel trailer camper that sleeps eight, powered by Suburban Propane. Full details and terms: rcblood.org/camper.

In addition to holding blood drives in Leah’s honor, her family has established a scholarship fund for nursing students at LeahsLegacyFoundation.org.

Health insights for donors 

The Red Cross is testing blood, platelet and plasma donations for COVID-19 antibodies. The test may indicate if the donor’s immune system has produced antibodies to the coronavirus.

Plasma from routine blood and platelet donations that have high levels of antibodies may be used as convalescent plasma to meet the needs of COVID-19 patients with weakened immune systems. Convalescent plasma is a type of blood product collected from COVID-19 survivors who have antibodies that may help patients who are actively fighting the virus.

The Red Cross is not testing donors to diagnose illness, referred to as a diagnostic test. To protect the health and safety of Red Cross staff and donors, it is important that individuals who do not feel well or believe they may be ill with COVID-19 postpone donation.

At a time when health information has never been more important, the Red Cross is also screening all blood, platelet and plasma donations from self-identified African American donors for the sickle cell trait. This additional screening will provide Black donors with an additional health insight and help the Red Cross identify compatible blood types more quickly to help patients with sickle cell disease. Blood transfusion is an essential treatment for those with sickle cell disease, and blood donations from individuals of the same race, ethnicity and blood type have a unique ability to help patients fighting sickle cell disease.

Donors can expect to receive antibody test and sickle cell trait screening results, if applicable, within one to two weeks through the Red Cross Blood Donor App and the online donor portal at RedCrossBlood.org.

Blood drive safety 

Each Red Cross blood drive and donation center follows the highest standards of safety and infection control, and additional precautions – including temperature checks and face masks for donors and staff – have been implemented to help protect the health of all those in attendance. Donors are asked to schedule an appointment prior to arriving at the drive and are required to wear a face mask while at the drive, in alignment with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention public guidance.

About blood donation 

Simply download the American Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit  RedCrossBlood.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or enable the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device to make an appointment or for more information. All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.

Blood and platelet donors can save time at their next donation by using RapidPass® to complete their pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of their donation, before arriving at the blood drive. To get started, follow the instructions at RedCrossBlood.org/RapidPass or use the Blood Donor App.

_ _ _

Photos via LeahsLegacyFoundation.org.

 

Copyright © Meridian Media, 2022. All Rights Reserved. No part of this story may be reproduced without Meridian Media’s express consent.

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