Eric Smith was diagnosed with aplastic anemia in 2010, a condition that occurs when your body stops producing enough new blood cells. "This is the boy in the bubble disease basically. My bone marrow was failing,” the 36-year old said.
He began immune suppression therapy, chemotherapy, stem cell transplants and blood transfusions. "If it weren't for the blood transfusions I would not be here,” he said. Smith was getting a transfusion every five days three months and then every couple of weeks for another three months. “I was constantly aware that other people were saving my life."
Now that he is cured, he’s encouraging others to give the gift of life. "Do it. It's the least difficult, really important thing you can do,” he said.
Those donations are especially needed during the summer months. Blood donor recruiter Whit Morison said this time of year is a double edge sword with more people needing blood and less people donating. "They’re thinking about vacation, not donating blood. But more people out and about, which means more injuries. So supply goes down and demand goes up,” Morison said.
For example, on Monday, the Johnston Memorial Blood Mobile only had six donors. The hospital goes through about 50 pints of blood each week and about 300-400 pints per month.
All of the blood donated has a shelf life of 42 days, but Morison said almost all of the blood donated this week will be used by the end of the weekend.
All the blood will be used locally in Southwest Virginia to help people like Curtis Shupe’s mother. Her son started donating blood after his mother was diagnosed with cancer and needed multiple transfusions after surgeries. "It’s something everyone has and if it can help anyone in any way, shape or form, why wouldn’t you?” he said.
The Johnston Memorial Blood Donor Center is in dire need of O-negative, O-positive and A-negative blood. The mobile unit will be at the Walmart in Marion, Virginia on Thursday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.