Sullivans, MFD host blood drive Aug. 15

Aug 9, 2018 by

Published in the August 10, 2018 edition

By JENNIFER GENTILE  

MELROSE—The nation is facing a critical blood shortage and the American Red Cross is desperate for donors. Fortunately, Melrose’s Neil and Jessica Sullivan and the Melrose Fire Department are holding their 10th annual blood drive that has helped collect blood donations from hundreds since 2008.

The Melrose Community Blood Drive, sponsored by the Sullivan Family and the Melrose Fire Department, will be held on Wednesday, Aug. 15, from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the VFW Post 2394, 14 Chipman Ave. in Melrose. While walk-ins are welcome, donors are encouraged to sign up in advance at 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or online at redcrossblood.org.

Summer time is especially low for donations and supplies are down by 50,000 across the country. In short, blood is being distributed faster than it is coming in. While all blood types are sought, Type O—a universal blood type—is most critical.

The Sullivans know the importance of life-saving blood. In 2005, Neil Sullivan was a firefighter with the Melrose Fire Department. The new father was responding to a local fire when a fire truck malfunction pinned him between two trucks and led to the eventual amputation of his leg. He was immediately rushed to Mass General, where he was treated urgently to save his life. It looked grim for the firefighter.

“It was touch and go,” says his wife Jessica. “Neil received over 20 blood transfusions in the course of three hours, which saved his life.”

That evening, as family and fellow firefighters waited for news at the hospital, the surgeon who helped saved Sullivan’s life explained to them that there was a small chance he’d survive, and he encouraged everyone there to commit to donating blood in their lifetime. Thus, a coalition was born. Since 2005 the Sullivan Family and Melrose Fire Department has held their annual blood drive that has collected 547 units in ten years (benefitting up to 1641 recipients). This summer, their aiming for more.

“The blood banks are so low,” says Jessica. “It’s important for those who are eligible to donate as often as they can. Hospitals now have to prioritize patients who require blood and the summer is especially low but it’s also when most accidents occur.”

Neil and Jessica now have four children, who will certainly contribute in the effort when they grow in adulthood. And as each August approaches this lifelong promise is renewed by the Sullivans and the Melrose Fire Department. “Without those transfusions he wouldn’t have lived,” says Jessica. “We want to give back and help those in need.”

Visit the August The Melrose Community Blood Drive on Wed. Aug 15 from 1-7 pm at the VFW Post 2394, 14 Chipman Ave in Melrose.

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