Three parishes honored for blood drive success

Bill Haman from St. Jerome and Connie Gaudio and Simone Barthell both from St. Clare, accepted the Hero Award on behalf of blood drive coordinators and donors who supported blood drive efforts during 2014. The parishes, alongside Immaculate Conception in Cottonwood, were among 28 groups named in the top three percent of blood drive hosts across Arizona Feb. 13. (courtesy photo)
Bill Haman from St. Jerome Parish and Connie Gaudio and Simone Barthell both from St. Clare of Assisi Parish in Surprise, accepted the Hero Award on behalf of coordinators and donors who supported blood drive efforts during 2014. The parishes, alongside Immaculate Conception in Cottonwood, were among 28 groups named in the top three percent of blood drive hosts across Arizona Feb. 13. (courtesy photo)

Of the more than 1,000 organizations that hosted blood drives throughout Arizona last year, three parishes from the Diocese of Phoenix emerged among the top three percent.

St. Jerome in Phoenix, St. Clare of Assisi in Surprise and Immaculate Conception Parish in Cottonwood earned a Hero Award from United Blood Services at its annual Valentines for Life luncheon Feb. 13. The distinction means those blood drive coordinators and donors provided the largest impact on the state’s blood supply with blood drive planning and recruiting, especially on difficult days or during times of critical need.

This year’s Hero Award winners hosted 228 blood drives that provided Arizona patients with 11,261 lifesaving blood donations. Twenty-five other businesses, schools and hospitals earned Hero Awards. That averages nine blood drives per year per top “blood hero.”

Some 1,080 organizations hosted a blood drive in Arizona last year with 187 groups receiving honors for reaching milestones in recruiting donors. Their efforts netted just over 162,300 donations that saved more than 324,000 lives in the Grand Canyon State.

Preston Smith is living proof that every blood donor counts. He was just 14 months old when one blood donor helped save his life when he required surgery to repair a constriction in his heart. He grew up healthy until his condition deteriorated as a teenager and he was placed at the top of the transplant list during his senior year of high school.

Within hours, Preston’s life was saved again with a donor heart and three more blood donors. Honored guests at the Valentines for Life event met Preston and heard his testimony.

“I would not be alive today without the generosity of tissue and blood donors,” Preston said. “They gave me the gift of life and I don’t plan to waste a minute of it!”