10/10/08 — Red Cross takes time to honor local volunteers

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Red Cross takes time to honor local volunteers

By Becky Barclay
Published in News on October 10, 2008 1:46 PM

An anonymous donor gave the blood that saved Blane Smith's wife -- and unborn daughter, he told those gathered Thursday for the annual awards luncheon for the Wayne County chapter of the American Red Cross.

And that makes that donor -- and others like him -- a hero, Smith said.

The banquet honored not only those who gave, but those who volunteered to help make the blood drives possible.

Bill and Jean Johnson received the Mary Norwood Volunteer Award for their service to the Red Cross this year. The award is given to the volunteer who most embodies the Red Cross spirit of selfless service. Mrs. Johnson has been a Red Cross volunteer for 38 years. Her husband joined after he retired.

Johnson greets donors as they arrive at the blood drive and also does blood collection education, while his wife works in the canteen, making sure donors are OK after giving blood.

Wayne Memorial Hospital received the Arnold B. Edgerton trophy for a business with 100 or more employees.

Presenting the award, Tammy Forrester, blood services director, said that the hospital sponsored eight blood drives this past year, collecting 636 units, which has a potential of helping 1,900 people.

The Margaret M. Moore trophy went to Berkeley Mall for businesses with 100 or fewer employees. The mall sponsored six blood drives last year.

The high school plaque was presented to Charles B. Aycock High School for the second year in a row. The school sponsored three blood drives and also involved the community in one of them.

Praising the Red Cross volunteers, Smith told the crowd about the day he almost lost his wife and his child.

Three years ago, his wife discovered she was pregnant with their fourth child. Two weeks later, as she sat on the couch, she told Smith she had lost the baby.

The couple went to the doctor who told them they had indeed lost one baby, but that there was another -- and that this child was also not going to make it.

"I went out into the waiting room and passed out," Smith said. "Then, we went home and waited to lose our second twin."

His wife came down with the flu for 10 days. By the time she was well enough to go back to the doctor, a tiny heartbeat was detected. The baby was alive.

Six weeks before the baby was due, however, Mrs. Smith got a severe pain in her side. Her husband took her to Pitt where doctors eventually discovered that the placenta had grown to her bladder. The baby's heartbeat became faint. Mrs. Smith began to bleed heavily.

After seven pints of blood, both Mrs. Smith and the baby girl were alive.

"You folks saved my wife and my child," Smith said. "It gives me chills when I tell you this."

Smith encouraged those attending the luncheon to keep volunteering, saying, "You'll have days running a blood drive when you think 'why do I do this?' It's important what you do. My daughter is 2 years old this week because of you."

Also during the awards luncheon, there was a special tribute to the late Don Best, who used to be blood services director and helped with blood drives after leaving that position. Richard Phillips sang "The American Red Cross Song" to honor Best's memory.