Community gives blood to support Wilder

By SASHA JOHNS / Community Columnist

Our county seat of Columbiana is proof that when a town comes together to support someone they love, they can do amazing things. Since 2014, the small city has been rolling up its sleeve to donate blood in honor of one of its own, Mollie Wilder.

Wilder’s mom, Renee, kicked off this regular event during her daughter’s battle with cancer when they faced a shortage of blood needed for Mollie’s treatment. Since that time, the drive has happened three times a year and is now a regular event every eight weeks. During that time, they have only missed their donation goal twice, and one of those times was due to severe inclement weather.

Their most recent blood drive collected 54 units of blood.

“Each unit of blood can save three lives so this drive can potentially save 162 lives,” Renee Wilder said.

Wilder, now a senior at Shelby County High School, has been in remission for several years, but this past month she received news that she had more fighting yet to do when a check-up revealed that there was new cancer in the motor strip of her brain.

On Friday, Jan. 8, Wilder and her mom missed their first blood drive while they quarantined in preparation for the upcoming surgery that her medical team is carefully planning out.

This news brought out some new faces to the blood drive on Friday. We caught up with SCHS junior, Kelyn Holmes who was giving blood for the very first time with her mom’s permission.

When asked what motivated her to donate now instead of waiting until she was older, she said, “I feel like there is likely going to be a time in the future when I may need blood, and I know that Mollie is going through a tough time right now. It felt like something I could do to show my support.”

This year blood donations are needed more than ever and for even more reasons. Currently, the need for donors, particularly plasma donors that have recently recovered from COVID-19 is vital to saving lives.

Angela Jackson, the representative of the Red Cross, said, “We always have a critical need for blood this time of year, but more so with COVID. If you are post-COVID it’s important for you to come in and donate right away. You could potentially have the convalescent plasma that could save someone’s life who is battling COVID.”

She went on to say that having it readily available would help more people. It’s just not something they have easily on hand, so donations matter a great deal.

If you’ve had the vaccine already, however, you may have to wait.

“If you’ve had the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, you can give blood right away,” Jackson said. “However, if you had the AstraZeneca or the Johnson and Johnson vaccines, there will be a two-week waiting period before you can donate.”

If you missed Friday’s Mollie Wilder blood drive, but you’d like to find an upcoming blood drive, especially if you’ve recently recovered from COVID-19, you can find a drive near you by calling 1-800-RedCross or by visiting RedCrossBlood.org.