GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM)- Each year more than 5,000,000 Americans need a blood transfusion. If you needed one you would expect there to be an ample supply but that supply is reliant on dedicated donors.
A Belmont mother wants to make sure that supply doesn't get too low.
Kathy Uzarski's son needed over 50 pints of blood when he was diagnosed with leukemia at just9-years-old. "When he was diagnosed they told us that they did not expect him to survive," said Uzarski.He needed two weeks of intensive chemotherapy which also meant many, many pints of blood. "You never question, at least I didn't question whether or not that blood was going to be there," she said.
But sometimes the supplies get dangerously low and there is a need for donors. "I can't imagine the doctors being able to do everything they could do for him, having the treatment, everything that we needed and not having the blood. If we didn't have the blood he wouldn't be here today," said Uzarski.
That's why when Kathy found out her son used over 50 pints during his battle with leukemia she made an instant decision. "When I found out I decided right then I wanted to replace it."
And she did, religiously giving every eight weeks until she had given back every drop. "It took me about 10 years," said Uzarski.
But when Kathy reached her goal, she kept going. She's now over 70 pints.
Her employer, Rockford Construction, recognized her dedication to blood donation with their charitable heart award. "She organized a blood drive here at the company and we had a great turnout. A lot of people have never given blood in their life were downstairs giving blood," said Rockford Construction CFA Julie Towner.
Kathy's son Jerry is now 26-years-old and has been cancer free for 17 years. "To look at him today you'd never know that he's a cancer survivor." But Kathy knows he's a survivor because over 50 people gave him the gift of life and that gratitude is what continues to inspire her to keep donating. "Knowing that you're saving somebody's life with that blood donation. It's such a simple thing," said Uzarski.
And it starts with just one pint.
If Kathy's story has inspired you to give blood, you're in luck.
Michigan blood is holding a Recycle Yourself Blood Drive this week in honor of earth day.
The drive runs April 18-21
MI Blood Grand Rapids Donor Center on Fuller
April 18 & 19: 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
April 20: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
April 21: 8 a.m. to Noon