Student holds blood drive
6th-grader has treatable bone cancer
Cranberry Eagle
Written by:
May 8, 2013
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Kevin Dreher of Wexford relaxes on his cell phone during his blood donation session at the Kaelyn Thimons blood drive last week. The drive, which was held in the gymnasium at St. Kilian Catholic School, earned Central Blood Bank 79 units of blood from 97 donors.

CRANBERRY TWP — A St. Kilian Catholic School sixth-grader and her family are proof that generosity can spring from hard times.

Kaelyn Thimons, 12, has received four units of blood as part of her chemotherapy treatment for Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare but treatable form of bone cancer that primarily affects adolescents.

So Kaelyn’s family decided to have a blood drive at the school to help replenish the community blood supply she has drawn from during her treatments. The drive, which was held in the gymnasium last week, earned Central Blood Bank 79 units of blood from 97 donors.

Kaelyn, who has undergone one round of chemotherapy at UPMC Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh since the end of January and was to begin another round this week, is responding well to her sometimes grueling treatment.

“I feel like I’m pretty brave about it,” Kaelyn said in between chatting with donors.

“It’s awesome,” Kaelyn said of the adults streaming in to donate. “It’s really great that people’s lives can be saved just from donating blood.”

As an oncologist who practices in Butler, Kaelyn’s mother, Melissa Cyr, said her work has allowed her to understand Kaelyn’s illness and treatment better than most parents.

“But when it comes to Kaelyn going through her treatment, I’m just a mom,” Cyr said.

She was shocked at the number and diversity of the people coming in to donate blood on one of 12 cots set up by Central Blood Bank.

“It’s been overwhelming,” Cyr said. “People taking time out of their busy day to help Kaelyn is very touching to us.”

She said neighbors, friends, St. Kilian parishioners and parents of students, as well as complete strangers rolled up their sleeves in Kaelyn’s honor. “It’s a shame there’s a shortage (of blood) in the U.S.,” Cyr said. “Giving blood is really easy to do.”

Proving Cyr’s point was Steve Spotts of Cranberry Township, who waited for his turn to donate. Spotts needed a transfusion at age 17 after a serious car accident and has donated as often as possible ever since. “I realize how important donating is,” said Spotts, who gives blood about six times per year.

Spotts is a St Kilian parent who coaches sports at the school. He said he was happy to give blood at an event that strikes close to home.

“It certainly makes it more than just giving blood when you know it’s for a parish family,” Spotts said.

Heather Lozowski of Cranberry Township is a St. Kilian parishioner. She hadn’t donated blood in some time but knew she would step up when she saw the notice for Kaelyn’s replenishment drive.

“It’s a great cause,” Lozowski said. “I hope this helps them out, and I hope everyone puts (Kaelyn’s family) in their prayers. I hope God’s will is a positive one.”

Terri Ward, a team account manager with Central Blood Bank, said the turnout for a child is normally more heavily attended than one held for an adult. She said most donors signed up in advance, but Kaelyn’s drive enjoyed more than 20 walk-ins.

“It’s really, really appreciated,” Ward said. “It’s people being generous.”