Every day, someone’s life is being saved.

By Tammie Riley 

I learned something the other day. Every day, someone’s life is being saved. I know that seems obvious, but let that sink in. What may be a normal Thursday for most could be something completely different for someone else. And that’s exactly what happened to donor Gary Gilson. Aug. 16 was one of the most important moments in Gary’s life. Not only did he save lives that day, but someone else saved the life of his loved one, as well.

I had a conversation with Gary, and he told me all about how blood donations have impacted his family. He’s been donating blood since the early 2000s but started donating with us regularly in 2012. He began by volunteering with a friend with leukemia who was getting blood transfusions at MD Anderson. Gary planned to donate at MD Anderson, but he explained that the opportunity came up to donate here at The Blood Center, and our process seemed easier.

Back in October 2017, Gary’s wife Jeanne was involved in a terrible accident where she broke both of her ankles. She received blood transfusions, as well as some screws and plates to hold her ankles in place while she recovered. Jeanne spent a week in the hospital, plus a week in a rehabilitation center. She spent another two months after that trying to get back to normal.

Fast forward to June this year, and Jeanne was admitted into the hospital again for sepsis. An infection had formed between the plates and screws in her ankles, resulting in the loss of her liver and kidney functions. The infection had worsened to the point where she was in a coma while being transferred to Methodist downtown. They were able to take the plates and screws out of her ankle, but her kidney and liver were still not healed. Gary wasn’t sure how to feel at this point.

Nonetheless, good news was on the way! On the night of Aug. 15, Gary received a call from his wife that they found both a kidney and liver for her. Her transplant surgery was scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 16 at 4 a.m. The operation was scheduled to last eight hours. 

Immatics Donor Gary Gilson

To say Gary was nervous was an understatement. His anxiety was pretty much instinctual. Eight hours is a long time to wait for a surgery. However, instead of sitting in the waiting room and worrying about everything that could go wrong, Gary said he decided to get up and go save a life in return for his wife’s blessing. That same morning, he donated mononuclear cells through our Be the Match program to be used for clinical cellular therapy protocols and for research and development to create new cellular therapy options for patients.

Gary often gets emotional when talking about his wife and saving lives. He often tells himself, “Can I do something to help somebody else?” He also told me, “I think you’re more than paid back when you see the good donating can do. It’s not going to hurt. At the end, you get juice and cookies! And at the same time, you get a good feeling in your heart that you helped somebody.”

Currently, Gary’s wife of 44 years is continuing to make great strides! The doctors are stabilizing Jeanne’s new liver and kidney, and she doesn’t have any signs of rejection. Gary also mentioned to me that his daughter was inspired to donate the very next morning! Their other daughter who lives out of state also donates on a regular basis because of seeing her dad be a good example for the family.

It still amazes me how much of an impact can be made in the community in just one day. I can’t even remember what I was doing on Aug. 16! People like Gary really make me appreciate the good that’s out there in the world. I asked him what it felt like to be a hero, and he said, “I’m not a hero. I’m just an average guy.” Hmm…I wonder what the world would be like if we had more “average guys” like Gary.

 

Blood Center News
Have you given a Holiday Hug?

One of the best parts of the Holiday Hugs tradition is reading the notes our donors write for patients in the hospital over the holidays. It’s not an easy task as each patient has his or her own individual circumstance, so we’re restricted in which cards we tie to each bear. Still, many of our donors are well up to the task.

Every day, someone’s life is being saved.

By Tammie Riley 

I learned something the other day. Every day, someone’s life is being saved. I know that seems obvious, but let that sink in. What may be a normal Thursday for most could be something completely different for someone else. And that’s exactly what happened to donor Gary Gilson. Aug. 16 was one of the most important moments in Gary’s life. Not only did he save lives that day, but someone else saved the life of his loved one, as well.

Hospital tour highlights need

A 3-year-old girl lies in a hospital bed in the middle of the room with monitors attached to her bare chest. She’s awake, but she doesn’t lift her head as we walk into the room. Still, she follows us with her eyes. The only sound we hear from her is a small cough while a nurse comes in to check her stats.

 

The Blood Center teams up with Sickle Cell Association of Houston

The Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center partnered with the Sickle Cell Association of Houston to host a blood drive Sept. 15 in recognition of Sickle Cell Disease Awareness Month.

Blood transfusion is one treatment used to combat complications from sickle cell disease, a form of anemia most likely to affect people of African descent. Prince and her now 27-year-old daughter, Quannecia McCruse, founded the Sickle Cell Association of Houston years ago to educate and provide resources to the community.

 

Drive and save lives

Penny, a local teacher with some free time over the summer, has helped us kick off our new Volunteer Driver program. Are you interested in joining us in our mission to save lives? Call us at (713) 791-6262 or email volunteering@giveblood.org.

Overcoming fear: Donating blood for the first time

I’m a scaredy-cat. I readily admit it. I hate needles. That’s always been my excuse for why I don’t volunteer for anything with a needle. Flu shot? No way. Vaccines? I still remember the sheer terror I felt from them growing up. 

We are always #HoustonStrong

We never know when the next tragedy will strike, but we have to be ready when it does come. 

Meet Eden

CYPRESS – There is nothing more American than baseball and saving lives. Everyone who participates in The Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center’s Home Run for Life competition will get a chance at both through June 30.

 

SuperMax is the hero Houston needs!

Max was born with a genetic disorder (neurofibromatosis type 1) that can cause tumors to grow on his nerve endings, and SuperMax has been his alter ego ever since. 

Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center mourns Barbara Bush

Barbara Bush helped save lives in our community, and we celebrate her lifetime of accomplishments. The former First Lady set the bar high in her commitment to helping others.

 

Dr. Charles Drew: A Blood Banking Pioneer

Here at The Blood Center, we pride ourselves on being an organization of diversity. We work together to save and sustain lives, and we each bring a unique perspective when it comes to fulfilling our mission.

Tying the knot and saving lives

Hurricane Harvey destroyed homes, cars and many other things, but one thing it couldn’t destroy is the compassion for others in newlywed couple Gilbert and Stefanie Cruz. Gilbert and Stefanie were set to get married just a few days after Harvey passed, but due the storm’s aftermath they had to alter all of their plans on a moment’s notice.

 

Blood on ambulances helps EMS agencies save more lives

Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center has partnered with two local agencies providing emergency medical services to help save more lives when time is of the essence, now administering whole blood to patients on the ground.

Donor coaches hit the road sporting new look, features

In the last two years, five of The Blood Center's donor coaches have been refurbished. Find out why this is such an important process.

Circle of Life Bike Tour celebrates life

The Lone Star Circle of Life bike tour visits Texas cities to raise awareness of the need for blood, marrow, organ and tissue donations to honor those impacted by these donation types. This year’s eight-day, 600-mile tour included stops in Houston and College Station.

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Blood Center Resources

Our mission is to partner with the community to save and sustain lives by providing a safe supply of blood, blood components and related services.

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1400 La Concha Lane
Houston, TX 77054

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