Local family, service group, sponsor blood drives every two months
by Laurie Rumpf
I never knew how much blood was needed. I would see the blood drive signs along the road or they would have a drive at my place of work years ago. In addition, I’d always think…they have enough blood, they don’t need mine. Boy was I wrong!
Back in 2003 my dad, Stephen Dickens, was diagnosed with leukemia. They discovered this by a random urine test for his job as a diesel mechanic. His oncologist told him that he wouldn’t really have to worry about it for another five years. He had regular visits for lab work in those five years. In addition, pretty much to that day…five years later my dad was at the Alfond Cancer Center, in Augusta, having chemo treatments. He ended up at MaineGeneral, in Augusta, from there they transported him to Maine Medical Center, in Portland. He was a patient there for a month.
We were with him that whole time. My mom lived there with him that whole time. My sister, brother or myself were always there with him. We watched him receive so many blood transfusions and platelets. The bad blood cells would kill it just as fast as he’d receive it. It was a rollercoaster month for all of us. In the end, he lost the battle with leukemia. But all those transfusions gave us an extra month with my dad. What a precious gift that was!
As the nurses would hook up each pint of blood I promised each one of them, “I’m going to pay that back!” After my dad passed, I went to Penney Memorial Church to a blood drive. After that I was hooked. It was my therapy to help me heal from losing my dad. So every 56 days I’d look for a local blood drive. My family wasn’t far behind me. We all would donate. None of us had ever donated before.
So a year after my dad had passed away we decided to all meet at the Portland Red Cross Donor center and we all donated blood together. There were eight of us that day. After that I decided I’d like to sponsor a drive each year on the anniversary of my dad passing away. So each year we’d get more and more people. My daughter Sasha Rumpf turned 16 and brought a lot of her friends. All first time donors! I was so proud of her and all of her friends! A lot of my friends had also jumped on the bandwagon. I think the most we had was around 52 people show up. We had so many that some had to wait over three hours! It was amazing to see though. All these people waiting around to save lives! Truly amazing!
My husband and daughter received a letter that they had a high platelet count so they wanted them to come to Portland to donate platelets.They now both donate platelets.
We now host the blood drives at the South China American Legion. We usually get pizza donated from Tobey’s or Fieldstone. We have so many that show up at each drive — I’m truly humbled to see this. The community pulls together! From the legion hosting it, my family and I running it, local stores donating pizza and all the amazing people that show up to give up their time and donate their blood to help save someone’s life or to help give someone some extra time with a loved one.
Our last drive was hosted by my 16 year old son, Colby Rumpf, in the Leaders Save Lives program. If you host a blood drive while you’re in high school and have 25 donors you earn a Red Cross cord for your graduation! He tried this last year and was short a few people. So he tried it again this year and he had 32 units of blood!
I am so very proud of my family, my friends and last but not least the community that I live in.
Please watch for our blood drive posters throughout the community and my posts on Facebook. We host drives right around every 56 days! Our next drive will be on November 16, 2019.
I hope to see you there!
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