• Special to The Sun

Family to host blood drive in honor of father

MIDWAY - The American Red Cross is joining family and friends in hosting a special blood drive in memory of James D. Watson, who died from metastatic esophageal lung cancer and Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS), also known as a bone marrow failure disorder, in January 2017. The community is invited to take part in this lifesaving event, "Pints for Pops," on Tuesday, March 21, at Forks of Elkhorn Baptist Church Cross Center, 495 Duckers Road, in Midway. Watson, a hard working yet quiet, reserved and dedicated friend, husband, father and grandfather was an accomplished woodworker and avid outdoorsman who enjoyed spending time in the woods and at the beach. He was a member of Forks of Elkhorn Baptist Church, where he participated in Sunday school and Discipleship 101 classes. He was also known to be an upbeat presence at the church's Cross Center facility, where he worked out three times a week while receiving chemotherapy treatments. In the last few months of his life, James's family learned firsthand how important blood and platelet donations could be. He received regular blood and platelet transfusions two to three times a week, and by December 2016, he received blood products every other day. "I told Daddy that he had put a name and face to the frequent calls for blood donors, which for me had gone completely ignored my whole life," said Teresa Lewis, James's daughter. "I realized that were it not for the donations of good people across this country, we would have lost my dad two months prior." The need for blood is constant. The Red Cross collects and distributes more than 40 percent of the nation's blood supply each year, and must collect nearly 14,000 blood and platelet donations every day for the patients at about 2,600 hospitals nationwide. "My family got to make precious memories with my dad over Thanksgiving and Christmas that wouldn't have happened without those essential blood products," said Lewis. "My family wants to help other families make those memories through the giving of blood." Every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood. The Red Cross encourages donors of all blood types to give now and help meet the need. Giving blood is an easy way to impact someone's life while impacting the community. How to donate blood To schedule an appointment to donate, download the American Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). 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 at least 17 years of age (16 with parental consent in some states), 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 donors can now 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, prior to arriving at the blood drive. To get started and learn more, visit redcrossblood.org/RapidPass and follow the instructions on the site.

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