Family uses blood drives to pay boy's gift forward


JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. (AP) — Every other month since November 2013, the Red Cross Bloodmobile has set up shop in front of Nelson's Garage on Court Avenue in Jeffersonville. It's not just a case of a welcoming business, it's part of a mission.

Inside, pictures of a 3-year-old boy hang on the door, walls, or sit on the front desk. Dylan, the grandson of Nelson's co-owner, Ron Grimes, has needed transfusions since June 2013.

It's saved his life, literally. Now Grimes and his daughter, Angie Wiseman, are doing what they can to pay it forward.

"We find it's our obligation morally to bring back the blood it took to keep him alive," Grimes told the News and Tribune ( ) during Saturday's blood drive. "We want to keep giving at least until we exceed what he needed. I'll donate every three months as long as I can."

Dylan Wiseman has aplastic anemia, a rare disorder that leaves his bone marrow unable to produce white or red blood cells. Angie said since he was diagnosed, Dylan has had about 300 transfusions of blood and platelets.

"It's a terrible thing I wouldn't wish upon my worst enemy," Grimes said. "It's turned my daughter's life upside down and mine kind of full circle."

Now that Dylan's received a bone marrow transplant — from a donor in England — Grimes and his daughter are trying to replace the units of blood Dylan has needed to survive by inviting the community to step up.

Before Dylan's difficult medical procedures, Angie said blood donation was never really on her mind.

"For me, until it was my child, I never thought about it," Angie said. "But when I saw it firsthand, it's what really connected for me."

She said she was so grateful that people had given blood at all for any reason, but she wanted to do something to show her appreciation.

After talking to her father about setting up blood drives, she went online to the Red Cross' website to see what options she had. From there, she began working with Donna Applegate, a donor resources representative with the Red Cross, to set up times for the Bloodmobile to come to her father's business.

Applegate said a lot of donors come in whenever they can, but what Angie's doing is somewhat unique.

"You have a core group of regular donors who give no matter what the situation is," Applegate said. "But to see the level of dedication Angie has is very rare."

She said when people think about who needs blood, car crash victims usually come to mind, but disease and other contributors also give lots of patients a need for transfusions.

"We love to see people who have that kind of passion, but in Dylan's case, the dedication is just almost unheard of," Applegate said. "I think this helps raise awareness for all kinds of other blood disorders and reasons why people need blood."

Angie said they've built up reserves by about 100 units of blood, but they still have a long way to go to meet their goal. She said it's also possible that she'll host these blood drives long after they've surpassed 300 units.

Grimes said between the help Dylan has received from the Red Cross, blood donors and Kosair Children's Hospital, he could never fully express his gratitude for everything that's been done for his grandson.

But he also said he knows the need won't really go away, especially for children who need the transfusions.

"This has to keep going for a lot of the kids at Kosair," Grimes said. "I feel like I'll owe Kosair for the rest of my life. He wouldn't be here if it weren't for them."


Information from: News and Tribune, Jeffersonville, Ind.,

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