Blood Bank of Delmarvahas scheduled a blood drive in honor of Vietnam veteran and retired local teacher Paul Elwood, who survived his recent fight against cancer because of blood transfusions.
The blood drive will take place on July 13thfrom9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at United Methodist Church, 219 E. Main St., Elkton.
The blood drive comes as the region is facing a critical blood emergency. BBD serves all 19 hospitals in the Delmarva Peninsula and must maintain a seven-day supply of all blood types. Right now, reserves are below that minimum. The low levels are particularly dangerous during the summer months, when people are less likely to donate blood as schools go on summer break and families take vacations.
Elwood, 72, of Rising Sun, Md., was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome, a condition in which the body is unable to make enough healthy blood cells. He started to notice he was no longer as energetic as he once was back in December.
By February, he was hospitalized and spent 34 days in the transfusion unit at the Helen F. Graham Cancer Center.
“My life was maintained by 20 transfusions,” Elwood said. “If they hadn’t been there, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.”
Elwood, who is married with two grown children and four grandchildren, is a retired administrator and teacher for Maryland schools, including Rising Sun, North East and Perryville. He also served as an infantry officer for the U.S. Army in Vietnam. He has been encouraged by the support he has received from former students and Army buddies willing to give blood.
Elwood is also president of CASA in Elkton. The organization, which stands for Court Appointed Special Advocates, recruits and trains volunteers to advocate for children who have been removed from their homes due to abuse or neglect.
For those feeling ambivalent or nervous about donating blood, Elwood has some advice on how to overcome that fear; “If a little tingle from a needle is the worst thing that happened to you, you’re having a good day. If people could relieve their anxiety, and just say, hey look, I’m not going to die for this needle stick. But, there’s a good chance when I get up from this, what I’ve provided may prevent someone else from dying. I think I’d just keep focusing on that.”