Blood drive planned to promote donations, help south side mom in need of kidney

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GREENWOOD, Ind. – Organizers of an upcoming blood drive in Greenwood hope to promote the message of donation, while helping a young mother in need of a kidney transplant.

Starla Simpson, 27, was diagnosed with kidney failure two years ago and is currently on the waitlist for a transplant. She says she is striving to stay energetic and positive throughout the ordeal, but it hasn’t always been easy since she began requiring dialysis treatments three days each week.

“Really fatigued, tired,” Simpson said. “Walking up the stairs, I was easily winded. And I was like I shouldn’t feel that way.”

Simpson says she is especially motivated to stay energized in order to keep up with her 7-year-old son, Paul.

“It’s hard,” she said. “He wants to start football and I want to be able to have the energy to go to every game and not be like hey you know, Paul I can’t go to football with you right now.”

Simpson is one of 1,300 Hoosiers currently on a waiting list for life-saving organ donations. More than 1,100 of those patients are waiting for kidney donations.

To help Starla and promote National Donate Life Month, the Indiana Blood Center will host a two-day blood drive at the Ashley HomeStore, located at 733 Loews Boulevard in Greenwood. The blood drive will take place this Friday from 5 p.m. until 9 p.m., and Sunday from noon until 4 p.m.

The goal of the blood drive is to inspire more Hoosiers to become donors of blood, tissue and organs. The Indiana Blood Center says they need about 550 units of blood every day to meet medical needs in the area. Some of those needs include patients like Simpson.

Kellie Hanner, President and CEO of the Indiana Donor Network, says Indiana is part of a national network where every minute counts for those waiting for organ transplants.

“Every ten minutes, there’s someone added to the waitlist and about twenty people die every day waiting for an organ transplant,” Hanner said.

Ashley HomeStore is teaming up with Indiana Blood Center because of personal connections to Simpson’s situation. Simpson’s sister has worked at the furniture store for the last four years, and the store’s Assistant Sales Manager, Tracey Anderson, has a young son who has dealt with kidney problems since birth.

“It’s going to continue for the rest of his life,” said Anderson. “So it touched me and I figured we would touch someone else.”

“I’d like to see a couple hundred people show up and we just push and push for a couple hours,” Anderson said.

Simpson and organizers of the blood drive hope the event will inspire more Hoosiers to decide to become organ donors.

“A lot of people, their families don’t know that they want to be an organ donor,” Simpson said. “So maybe just talk to your family if that’s something you want to consider.”

“God forbid, hopefully nothing bad happens to somebody,” Simpson said. “But if it does, they know hey I want to give life to somebody else.”

Simpson also hopes more people will consider becoming living donors, who are able to donate a kidney, lung, or portions of the liver, pancreas and intestines.

“With me being O blood type, it usually takes about five years to get a donor,” Simpson said. “That’s why I’m trying to get a living donor.”

Anyone who wants to learn more about becoming a living organ donor can find information from IU Health and St. Vincent on their websites.

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