By Ann Leach
It was an exciting time of life for then-26-year-old Chase Marcus. He was a 2017 college graduate and a newlywed to his 22-year-old bride, Alyssa. He served as a youth minister and was at church camp when he started feeling ill and noticed a bruise on his thigh that began growing deeper in color. Next came a fever, and he knew it was time to get to the doctor.
Blood was drawn to determine what could be the issue. The results showed severely low levels of platelets, red blood cells and white blood cells. “I was flown to University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City and had a bone marrow biopsy, and it was confirmed that I had a rare form of leukemia, so I immediately began receiving platelets and blood transfusions,” Marcus said. “I later learned that I had been a week away from death.”
Marcus remained in the hospital for almost four weeks, getting the needed transfusions and chemo treatments. The chemo treatments continued frequently for the next 10 months until he achieved remission in February 2018.
Prior to his illness, Marcus had been a blood donor but is now ineligible to give. “Since I no longer can, Alyssa does it for those who need it like I did.”
Alyssa Marcus first donated when she was a senior in high school and accompanied her father who regularly donates both whole blood and platelets.
“After watching my husband almost lose his life and knowing his blood transfusions are what brought him back from near death, it’s been important for me to do something as a result of our experience,” she said. “By donating an hour of my time and my blood every couple of months, I can literally help save a life just like my husband’s life was saved by anonymous blood donors.”
One of CBCO’s donors is Josh Pruitt, who said he gives because he enjoys helping others. “When I realized I was a universal donor with an O negative blood type, I knew I would be able to help anyone who needed the lifesaving blood.”
Pruitt worked in a 911 dispatch center for 18 years and served in the military for 17 years. He saw the need for blood donors daily when he took calls for accidents or a variety of other reasons. “You never know who will need blood and when,” he said. “I think it’s good to give when you can because blood doesn’t last a long time in a blood bank, so it always needs to be replenished often.”
Pruitt offered some tips for giving that include exploring the CBCO website and the educational materials housed there. “And, if you are nervous about donating, then ask a friend or family member to go with you,” he said. “I always eat a full meal before I go to donate, and it’s fun to go for lunch with friends before going to the donation center.”
Chase Marcus appreciates both those first-time and long-term donors who give to the CBCO regularly. “They helped me get to this point,” he said. “I was given a second chance at life. Five years later, we found out we’re pregnant with a miracle baby. Not only have I been able to survive cancer, but I’ve been able to enjoy the beauty of life with my wife and soon, with our son. My greatest dream has always been to be a father and a husband.”
ABOUT COMMUNITY BLOOD CENTER OF THE OZARKS
-Exclusive provider of blood, plasma and platelets to 44 hospitals in Southwest Missouri, Northwest Arkansas and Southeast Kansas
– About 200 daily donations are needed to meet the needs of your community
-There were 11,277 blood products distributed to regional hospitals last year
– Thirty-eight percent of the population is eligible to donate blood, but less than 6% does.
– Approximately 300 mobile blood drives are held in the Four-State Area. Find a location at www.cbco.org/donate-blood/
-Plan on spending about an hour for the donation process. Each time you do, you help save the lives of three people right here in the Ozarks
-Donors can donate red cells every 56 days.
HOW TO DONATE
Visit the Joplin Donor Center located in Northpark Mall, 101 North Range Line Road.
Hours of operation: Monday through Thursday, 11 am to 6 pm; Friday, 8 am to 2 pm
For more information, call 417.227.5376 or visit www.cbco.org.