TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (AP) - Fifty-seven-year old Mickey Umphries donated blood for the first time Monday.
His inspiration, he said, was 7-year-old first-grader Katelyn Newell, who someday will have to undergo a heart transplant.
The Indiana Blood Center blood drive took place in the Deming Elementary gym.
Katelyn, who is back at school, collapsed at Deming on March 22.
She was taken by ambulance to Union Hospital and later that day she went to Riley Hospital for Children. She has since had a pacemaker put in, and eventually, she faces heart transplant surgery.
Katelyn was born with complex congenital heart disease. She was born without a valve and underwent three surgeries to correct it. Except for a stroke when she was 3 1/2 years old, Katelyn had been very healthy until last fall.
Now, she suffers from bradycardia, in which her heart beats very slowly. Katelyn's coronary arteries are not developing as they should.
The 7-year-old was due for a check-up appointment at Riley Tuesday to see how well her pacemaker is working. "She's actually still been turning blue on us, and she's also been complaining about chest pains" since late last week, said her mom, Robin Newell.
"We're hoping it's just a medication adjustment is all that will be needed this time," Robin Newell said. Her daughter is on blood thinners and blood pressure medication.
Katelyn uses a wheelchair at school because she gets weak if she has to walk too far.
Robin Newell had a conversation with her daughter Sunday about the need for a heart transplant. "She just said she wants her heart to be better," Robin Newell said.
The blood drive had been scheduled prior to Katelyn's health emergency March 22, but on Monday, the 7-year-old served as the inspiration. "We decided this would be a great way to honor her," said Susan Mardis, school principal.
One of those inspired was Umphries, who has three grandchildren at Deming. "She's a sweetheart," he said of Katelyn. He hopes the blood donation "will help somebody."
Natasha Sullivan also donated blood for the first time. Her daughter, Kaylee Sullivan, encouraged her to do so, "Otherwise I would not be in this chair," she admitted. Her daughter told her "it was for a good cause" and a way to honor Katelyn.
Natasha Sullivan, who doesn't like needles, admitted, "I'm scared to death" as she awaited her turn to give blood.
By the time the blood drive concluded, 21 people had donated, including eight teachers and Katelyn's parents.
Information from: Tribune-Star, http://www.tribstar.com
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