Pint for Pint Blood Drive: Giving the Gift of Life

FRESNO, Calif.

They are as different as night and day. Gracie at three-years-old and Andrew at eighteen. But they and their families are fighting a shared battle -- to beat cancer.

At a recent blood drive in Visalia hundreds of people turned out to donate and some tested as potential bone marrow donor for little Gracie.

Gracie's father, Anthony Chavez said, "We're just trying to find something that will help her be as normal as she can, cure her illness and let her live a normal life."

Gracie and Andrew share that need for frequent and continuing blood transfusions.

Andrew McMillan said, "It entails a whole lot of very toxic chemicals and a lot of blood and transfusions."

When Andrew was diagnosed he still had a full head of hair. Chemo caused its loss but that isn't the only side effect.

Andrew said, "That can make you very nauseous and very sick and you just have to power through it."

And what kills the cancer cells -- kills red blood cells.

/*Dean Eller*/ of the /*Central California Blood Center*/ understands that. His daughter fought but lost her battle with cancer eighteen years ago.

"Their body can't make blood," said Dean Eller. "Their body stops making blood."

That's why blood donors are so necessary -- fresh supplies of this precious commodity means extended life and the potential of recovery for cancer patients in the Central Valley. And that's why the /*Pint for Pint Blood Drive*/ is an opportunity to become part of an army committed to saving lives -- one blood donation at a time.

Eller said, "There are new patients every year and new people involved and it really is about life and so it becomes a real mission."

The McMillan and Chavez families are grateful to every donor and the gift they give.

Andrews mother, Laura said, "And over the course of the last five months he's received eighteen pints of blood and about five or six platelet transfusions and yeah, I can't imagine not having this blood bank here."

Friday is the kickoff for the Pint for Pint Blood Drive. Each person who donates a pint of blood receives a pint of ice cream.

There are five donation locations across the Valley, including three in Fresno: the Jenny Eller Donor Center on West Herndon, the North Fresno Donor Center on Perrin and the Fresno Donor Center on First Street.

Donations are also being accepted at the /*Sierra Vista Mall*/ in Clovis, and the Visalia Donor Center on Mooney Boulevard.

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