Record crowd at drive Family, hospital overwhelmed by support
The outpouring of community support was overwhelming during Jesse Williams’ bone marrow drive last Friday, said her father and hospital officials.
The 3-year-old girl suffers from Evan’s Syndrome-a rare blood disease that destroys blood platelets, and desperately needs a bone marrow match to recover from this blood disorder.
“I walked away from this event with a better understanding of why I live in a small town like Truckee,” said Tahoe Forest Hospital’s Marketing Director Joseph Ferrera. “It just blew me away.”
Nearly 500 participants
Sacramento Blood Bank reported a record 456 people participated in the drive, 48 of which also gave blood. SBB said the closest reported record for numbers of participants was 191 for the entire Sacramento region.
“At times the wait for testing was one hour and it didn’t even seem to phase the people waiting,” Ferrera said. “If people couldn’t wait, they just came back later and usually with a friend.”
Jesse’s father Hugh Williams was also amazed.
“We thought that we might be able to get 200 participants,” he said. “It was great to see such support from the community.”
Ferrera said that both Northstar-at-Tahoe and Tahoe-Truckee Lumber both paid their employees to give blood.
Northstar provided a shuttle service for their employees and the
Tahoe-Truckee Lumber gave their employees ample time to get tested, he said.
Williams said that he can not thank the community enough, especially Ames Deli Mart, which donated food and barbecued hamburgers outside the new hospital building for the people who were waiting to be tested.
“I can’t believe that 5 percent of Truckee’s population came out to be tested,” he said. “Even if there are no matches for Jesse, we may have saved another life that day.”
Williams said the testing results, which will show whether there is a suitable match for Jesse, should be available Aug. 15.
“This hospital, with its nurses and specialists, saved my life. I think (Truckee) is a pretty ideal place to live.”
Williams was released from Tahoe Forest Hospital just days before Jesse’s bone marrow drive. He had been hospitalized for pneumonia and quickly worsened with respiratory failure caused by hantavirus, the potentially deadly virus spread by deer mice.
“There was certainly a higher power involved in my speedy recovery,” he said. “Most people don’t get up and walk away from being on a respirator so soon.”
The drive, although supplying the much needed marrow samples, left Williams and the hospital $4,000 in the red.
“We only budgeted for 250 participants at the most,” Ferrera said. “The Sacramento Blood Bank matched funds and Hugh raised other funds, but we still came up short.”
Williams, with the help of the hospital, is trying to raise funds. The hospital has already agreed to donate an additional $1,000 to help cover the costs for supplying additional personnel to the drive.
Williams said donations are still being accepted and are greatly appreciated. Donations can be sent payable to the Center for Blood Research, c/o Hugh Williams, P.O. Box 2047, Truckee, CA 96160.
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Volunteers are being sought to take water samples from creeks, streams and smaller lakes, including Lake Tahoe, in the Tahoe-Truckee watershed to get a snapshot of water quality at a single moment in time.