Supplying platelets for children

Thursday, December 19, 2002

Every family in the United States has been touched by Cancer, in one way or another, but the defining measure of individuals seems to be in the way they handle their trials and tribulations. They can either be defeated, challenged or become champions.

Perry Wood, of Monette, has taken on the roll of a champion, and decided to do something positive to pay tribute to his son, Dusty, who died from Cancer at the young age of 19. Perry's took on a challenge that has gone beyond just the sweet memory of his son, but to all the children at St. Jude's Hospital, in Memphis, that he has not even met--those who are in need of platelets to prolong their lives.

"Please don't make me out as some sort of hero," Perry said. "I'm just one of many thousands of people who want to do something to help.

"When Donna, Jordan and I lost Dusty we were devastated at first," Perry said. "We received so much love and support from our family and friends, that we came to realize we were very lucky people indeed to have so many people care, and to have had a son and brother who's life had touched so many people.

"Dusty died in October of 1997," Perry said. "We had become so close to the caregivers and staff at St. Jude and often thought of them. We recalled the kind things they had done for Dusty and for us, way beyond the call of duty. These people are so dedicated to trying to save lives and improve the quality of life left on earth.

"I went back to St. Jude to visit in February of 1998, and overheard the staff talking about a critical shortage in platelets. They hurridly rounded up everyone they could find to give platelets. I found myself drawn into this delima and was quick to volunteer.

"After I came home, I felt the need to do something about finding platelet donors," Perry said. "After talking with friends and church members (Monette Church of Christ), a decision was made to secure and transport donors to Memphis on a monthly basis,using our curch van. The church needed a van anyway, so this was the time to buy one.

"I had been praying for something I could do with my life and the skills that I had, and this was an answer to a prayer." Perry said. "Now, I was committed. We set up the third Saturday of every month to take at least 6 donors to St. Jude. We started the very next month.

"Some people have gone every mongh since we began," Perry said. "They can give platelets up to 24 times a year. Requirements are that they need to be at least 17 years old, be in good health, weigh at least 110 pounds, and not have had aspirin or products containing aspirin within 72 hours of the donation.

"Platelets have only a five day shelf life, and three of those days are needed to test the platelets, which only leaves a two window of use," Perry said. "Platelets cause blood to clot. After undergoing chemo or radium treatments, the patients are low and in need of replenishing. Platelets are infused in patients to be used as seed to help more platelets grow. Many children can not even have the treatments without a supply of platelets on hand.

"We were told that St. Jude is the largest user of platelets in the world," Perry said. "The need for platelets increases each year."

"Since we started in 1998 we have contributed 607 pints of platelets, which would have a value of $1,000 a pint," Perry said. "There is no dollar value on human life, as every life is precious, every day is precious.

"The initial seed money for this project came from gifts during the loss of Dusty," Perry said. "We had insurance and were able to take care of our financial needs, and we wanted to invest the money in some way to help others. The platelett ministry, through our church, has proven to be the answer for us to give back just a part of what we have been given."

What better Christmas gift could any of us give that the gift of life. For more information on the ongoing platelet ministry please call 870-486-2815.

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