Blood, Marrow Drive Brings New Donors

Giving the gift of life is one of the most important decisions a person can make. They desperately need both blood and bone marrow donations. Memorial Health's Anderson Cancer Institute is working to get critical donations that'll give someone a second chance at life.

Penny Smith-Horton is no stranger to blood drives like the one there today. She was diagnosed with leukemia eight years ago. Her only shot at a cure was a bone marrow transplant. "We began searching through my family and checking to see if they were matches, and none of them were," she told us.

But through blood drives and people singing up on the National Bone Marrow Registry, Penny found her genetic twin, Aundraya, from Germany. Cancer free, Penny now spends her time making sure people know the importance of donating. "Everything that I've learned, everything that I've gained, has focused my energy on patient advocacy to do thing such as this," she said.

And people are listening. Chairs were filled with blood donors all day long. "The feeling that you get out of it in the end is worth a little bit of a finger prick or a needle stick," said donor Debbie Brickner.

By noon today, the bone marrow registry had 50 new names on it, with more people waiting to sign in. "I think that being a part of the registry gives them hope that there is someone out there that really wants to help them, and we do want to help them," said Audria Crowder, who just signed up today.

That's a sentiment definitely shared by Penny, who hopes more people will meet the challenge and help give someone else a second chance at life. "I have been witness to countless bone marrow drives," she said. "And have seen people come out to be superheroes and give the gift of life. Everyone has it in them to be a superhero too."

They want to make it an annual event. If you'd like to help, contact the Anderson Cancer Institute's Kristie Waterfield at  350-6730 or a blood bank in your community.

Reported by: Melanie Ruberti,