WFTV Saves Lives
Once a year, Orlando ABC affiliate WFTV
swaps anchor chairs for donation chairs as they invite the
community to come into their studio to save local lives.
WFTV Anchor Bob Opsahl says, “We love to invite people to come out
and have this positive experience in their lives to donate and help
Opsahl is a multi-gallon donor who’s been donating blood at WFTV
since the early 80’s.
82-year-old donor Barbara McGee has attended nearly every WFTV
blood drive as well
“I’m healthy and there are a lot that need it, like my parents when
they needed blood, so every time I’m available and it’s here, I
come, ” McGee said.
McGee joins dozens of WFTV viewers who enjoy rolling up their
sleeves next to some of their favorite anchors and reporters.
Reporter Daralene Jones rolled up her sleeve before heading out to
She sees people who will need blood on a daily basis while out
covering the news.
Jones said, “It is interesting to me that I’m here donating this
blood and later on today or tomorrow or this month I could be
covering a shooting and this blood that I’m giving here could
potentially help those victims so that is pretty awesome.”
Even Orlando Police Chief Paul Rooney rolled up his sleeve. He says
giving blood is the most important thing he will do today.
Like Daralene, he sees the need for blood on a daily basis.
Blood donated at WFTV will likely be transfused into a patient
within the next couple of days.
It may be an accident victim or cancer patient like
Tatum was diagnosed with leukemia when she was just two years
She’s in remission now, but her mother donates every chance she
Many donors at WFTV have their own reason for giving the gift of
Donor Leonard Cytar received blood himself in 2004 following a
motorcycle accident and donor Brian Rebando gives blood in honor of
his mother who received multiple transfusions while fighting
This year Florida’s Blood Centers pit the WFTV anchors against
meteorologists to see which group could bring in the most blood
It was neck and neck all day long and ended up being a tie with
each team bringing in 60 donors a piece.
Regardless of which team you voted for, the real winners are the
patients at our local hospitals who will receive the blood donated
Together Florida’s Blood Centers and WFTV helped save more than 350
Like many three-year-old boys, Enzo Grande
is normally a bundle of energy. He enjoys riding his bike and
playing with his twin sister, Larissa.
When he began feeling tired and looking pale his parents knew
something was wrong.
They thought it was a virus and took him to an urgent care
facility. What they thought would be a quick trip to the doctor
turned into a night that would change their lives forever.
His mother Elaine Grande says, “I fell to the floor and was in
complete shock. You know we went from a virus to anemia to
leukemia. It was just a whirlwind within a 10 hour span.”
“You know they say you hear cancer and you just die and we
basically died for a little while until today, until we’re sitting
here today,” said his father Vincenzo Grande.
Little Enzo spent the next two weeks at Arnold Palmer Hospital in
He needed multiple blood transfusions just to get his levels up to
a place where he could begin receiving chemotherapy.
Enzo is in the beginning stages of treatment and may need more
blood transfusions as he fights the disease.
His parents admit that donating blood wasn’t at the top of their
list of things to do before their son ended up being a
“You get lost in the world and you’re just-go at your own pace, but
when your life gets halted like this and you need those blood
donations and people that you don’t even know are sitting there for
an hour, getting the blood taken out, you really don’t know how
much you are helping someone,” Elaine said.
Now the Grande family encourages everyone to roll up their sleeves
and give the gift of life because they see firsthand how blood
donors are impacting the life of their child.
Watch Enzo’s story
With its checkered flag, need for speed and
loyal fan base, NASCAR is a uniquely American sport.
“We wrap ourselves in the American flag, whether it’s our
patriotism, what we do for the military or what we give back to the
communities in which we race in,” says Joie Chitwood, President of
the Daytona International Speedway.
That giving spirit shines through as we get ready to remember the
anniversary of the September 11th
Hundreds of NASCAR fans will give life to others in honor of
those who lost their lives by donating blood on September
at the Daytona International Speedway.
Florida’s Blood Centers and the Daytona International Speedway are
teaming up for the 6th
year in a row to remember
September 11,2001 through blood donation.
NASCAR fan Pat Brown says, “It’s a way of commemorating what
happened and being a participant in what they can do…as they
weren’t there and still show that they care.”
Everyone who donates at the September 10th
will receive a commemorative t-shirt, a free ticket to the Subway
Jalapeno 250. Plus, everybody who books an appointment will be
entered in to win one of six commemorative plaques that contains an
actual piece of the Daytona International Speedway. If we collect
500 units the Daytona International Speedway is going to raffle off
a Daytona 500 Club package to go see the Daytona 500 and if we
collect 900 units of blood the Speedway is going to raffle off a
Daytona 500 Club package to see the Coke Zero 400.
Chitwood says, “For a fan to walk away with a piece of true
history…50 years of asphalt from this great property…I can’t think
of a better memento to leave Daytona with to really remember all
that’s special about Daytona.”
As the nation reflects back on the worst terrorist attacks on
American soil, NASCAR fans are driven to donate as they keep the
American spirit alive by proving they really do bleed red, white
Video and Book an Appointment
Surrounded by wires, pumps and machines,
newborn Hudson Turner struggles to survive inside the neonatal
intensive care unit. Doctors diagnosed Hudson with hypoplastic left
heart syndrome three weeks before he was born. His parents
were devastated. They knew he’d have a tough road ahead of him and
when doctors said he’d need a heart transplant it was another blow
to their hearts.
Hudson spent five months waiting on a heart and underwent two open
heart surgeries in the meantime. He needed multiple units of blood
in the process, but when he finally did get his heart transplant he
was too sick to pull through.
Though he ended up passing away, his family is grateful to blood
donors because they allowed Hudson to spend five months with his
His mother Brooke said, “It meant the world. That 5 ½ months is all
we had…we never took him home. He stayed in the hospital. Without
it I never would have known my son so it means a lot that he was
able to live at least 5 ½ months.”
Hudson’s father, Luke, had been a blood donor for years, but his
situation inspired Brooke to also roll up her sleeve and give the
gift of life to other children who may be in the hospital right
She says, “I hope that people will understand that it doesn’t hurt
to give blood. It doesn’t take that much time and that you’re
saving a life and giving someone that short amount of time that
they have with their child.”
A lot has changed since Hudson’s passing. The Turners had another
child, Holden, and they moved to Florida where Luke took a job at
As they maneuver through the wildlife at Gatorland, the Turners
know a member of their family is missing, but they keep his spirit
alive by giving life to others in his honor.
Lives With WFTV
Every night viewers across Central Florida
invite the WFTV news-team into their homes. Now, WFTV is inviting
you into their studio to save local lives.
WFTV and Florida’s Blood Centers have been teaming up for nearly
three decades of blood drives.
The partnership started back in 1982 as Blood Brotherhood Day and
morphed into a 12 hour in-studio blood drive that will take place
this year on August 30.
Over the years one anchor has remained a constant life-saver; Bob
Opsahl says he brings the viewers stories about people who need
blood every night on the news and rolling up his sleeve is a good
way to give back to the community.
Opsahl passed on his life-saving tradition to his nephew Logan
He began donated blood while at Boone High School in honor of his
brother who received a blood transfusion as a child.
This year the torch is being passed once again as Anchor/Reporter
Nancy Alvarez takes the reins as the host of the blood drive.
Alvarez says she’s given blood in the past because it is such an
important community resource.
Plus, she covers stories on blood recipients on a daily
basis. Alvarez says, “I’ve been to ORMC so many times, standing out
there, doing the live shot and I know that the person upstairs that
I’m talking about has been impacted by some type of tragic event is
being saved because someone somewhere in Central Florida gave the
gift of donating blood and so I’ve obviously been connected to it
in that way…more than anything.”
This year, we’re stirring things up a little bit by pitting the
WFTV anchors against the WFTV meteorologists to see which group can
bring in the most units of blood. All donors will be asked which
group they want their donation to count toward.
In the end the real winners are the patients at our local hospitals
who will receive the blood collected at WFTV.
WFTV Vice President and General Manager Shawn Bartelt says, “I
think for the folks who come here…they get to touch that station in
a different way and to see the people that they watch on tv and to
be able to come here knowing that we are so invested in the
community. I think it gives them that opportunity to just touch the
station at a closer level.”
Roll up your sleeve at WFTV on August 30 and you may even get a
chance to donate blood next to your favorite WFTV anchor, reporter
Learn more about the WFTV blood drive and book an appointment
Make a Match
For the second year in a row dozens of people gathered at
Florida Hospital to make a match and save a life in honor of
21-year-old leukemia victim Terrell Wilson.
Terrell died on Christmas day 2009 after a well-fought battle
with leukemia. He was in desperate need of a bone marrow
transplant, but he couldn’t find a matching bone marrow donor.
Doctor Paul Gordon is the Medical Director Of the Pediatric
Medical Transplantation program at Fl. Hospital. He says, “There
are definite ethnic differences in our HLA and in our blood types,
so a recipient who needs bone marrow who’s African American is more
likely to find a donor who’s African American. If you are Caucasian
the vast majority of people who search for a match will find it and
that’s just because the majority of donors in the donor pool are
Caucasian. If you are non-Caucasian, meaning Hispanic or
African-American or Asian, you have a lower chance of finding a
match in the donor pool if you need it. It is really important for
people who are minorities to donate so we can increase the number
of non-Caucasian people or minorities in the donor pool.”
Only 7% of people on the National Bone Marrow Registry are
African American. That’s why Florida’s Blood Centers teamed up with
Florida Hospital and Kids Beating Cancer for the Make a Match &
Save a Life blood drive.
Terrell’s cousin Scourby Counts donated double red blood cells
via the Alyx machine. He says, “It’s a sad occasion that something
like this had to happen in order for awareness to be made in the
community, but at the same time it’s been effective.”
Only 25% of patients in need of a bone marrow transplant will
find a match within their own family. The other 75% are like
Matthew Coton. He’s a 13-year-old boy who was diagnosed with CML
leukemia in 2007.
Like Terrell, he too needed a bone marrow transplant. Neither
Matthew’s brother nor sister was a match, so he turned to the
National Bone Marrow Registry.
After about six months he found a matching donor who was willing
to donate bone marrow to him.
Today, Matthew is in remission. He’s entering the 7th
grade and is able to do all the things he couldn’t do while he was
in the hospital such as ride his bike and play outside with his
Blood donors also play a critical role in treating patients in
need of a bone marrow transplant. Most patients need blood and/or
platelet transfusions before, during and following a
Leukemia survivor Wesley Rivera says, “The bone marrow
transplant helped me overcome cancer, but I wouldn’t have been able
to have the bone marrow transplant without the blood and platelets
because what they do is they wipe you clean of all your blood and
your cells and the blood and platelets that Florida’s Blood Centers
provides is the foundation for new growth with the bone marrow
transplant, so without that I wouldn’t be able to be here
Together Florida’s Blood Centers, Florida Hospital and Kids
Beating Cancer registered 248 people for the National Bone Marrow
Registry and collected 97 units of blood.
Ahead and Be Prepared
Those of us who experienced the 2004 hurricane season won’t
forget the names Charley, Frances and Jeanne any time soon.
As we head into the height of hurricane season many Floridians
are stocking up on supplies such as bottled water, canned food and
flashlights, but there is one thing you should think about donating
before a storm hits-your blood.
Patrick O’Sullivan, Operations Director for Florida Hospital
Orlando Laboratory, says, “The need for blood doesn’t go away
during a storm, but the ability to collect it is difficult due to a
storm, so you might lose a day or two or three of collections so
that lowers the general blood supply.”
That makes the need for donations before a storm hits all the
more urgent. While many of us are riding out the storm in our homes
or at a shelter our area hospitals are operating at full force and
the people who normally receive blood still need it whether there’s
a storm about to strike or not.
O’Sullivan says, “We have cancer patients that are still
here. We still have open heart surgery and transplant
surgery. That’s still going on during that time.”
Hospitals need to makes sure they have a well-stocked blood
supply at all times, but especially when a hurricane or other
natural disaster strikes.
Dr. Lizardo Cerezo is the Medical Director for the ORMC
Laboratory. He says, “The emergencies that you see are all trauma
related, but they could be greater acuity or in greater numbers
should we have a natural disaster such as a hurricane, so that’s
why the potential for increased blood need is certainly there.”
Florida’s Blood Centers moves into storm mode prior to a
hurricane warning and donors are a big part of our plan.
Florida’s Blood Centers Interim CEO Mike Pratt says,
“Sometimes, yes you do try to get donors before a
storm to build up the blood supply. After it’s a response
after the storm where you can basically get the people to respond
because they know there is damage and some people may have been
injured. It can go both ways and you just have to available
yourself to the opportunity.”
Since Florida’s Blood Centers has distribution sites throughout
the state we are able to keep the blood flowing to the hospitals
even if some locations are off-line due to the storm.
Pratt says, “One of our strengths is that we don’t put all of
our eggs in one basket. We don’t just have a blood supply
here in Orlando; we have a blood supply in what we call hubs all
over the state. So, we make sure the blood is in the place it
needs to be and in the hospitals where it is most needed.”
Be sure to include donating blood on your hurricane checklist so
we can all plan ahead and be prepared.
Florida’s Blood Centers is hosting a “Plan Ahead and Be
Prepared” blood drive August 4-7- Learn
a Match and Save a Life
Leukemia is a disease that does not discriminate. It can hit
anyone, at any time, regardless of race or age. When I first met
Terrell Wilson in late 2009, it was because Florida’s Blood Centers
was assisting WKMG-TV on a story that tracked a unit of blood from
donor to recipient. Terrell was the recipient. At the time, he was
fighting leukemia and received regular blood and platelet
transfusions to help counteract the devastating effects of
chemotherapy. Terrell was in desperate need of a bone marrow
transplant, but finding a match was no easy feat.
Florida’s Blood Centers Chief Medical Affairs Officer Dr. Tisha
Foster says, “In order to find the right match that the transplant
can be successful they’re most likely to find a match within their
own ethnicity, so it’s really important that we have a variety of
ethnicities on the bone marrow registry in which to choose from for
Terrell was African-American and only 7% of the more than nine
million Americans on the National Bone Marrow Registry are
Dr. Vijay Reddy, Medical Director of Florida Center for Cellular
Therapy FL. Hosp. Cancer Institute, says, “There’s an under
representation of minorities I think really due to lack of
awareness of what’s out there and also lack of how simple the
process is and it’s not as painful as people think. It’s a
simple cheek swab and then you go on the registry and then it’s an
Unfortunately, Terrell passed away on Christmas Day without ever
finding a matching bone marrow donor.
Terrell’s legacy lives on. In 2010 Florida’s Blood Centers and
Florida Hospital teamed up for a blood and bone marrow drive in his
honor. Now in its second year, the “Make a Match & Save a Life
Blood and Bone Marrow Drive” hopes to inspire minorities in
particular to donate blood and join the National Bone Marrow
Dr. Reddy, says “We could not find a donor for him, but his
energy and spirit is everlasting as we can see here and he was full
of spirit and he was positive thinking while going through this
process and I’m hoping in the future for patients like him we are
going to find donors and save their lives and not let cancer beat
The "Make a Match and Save a Life Blood and Bone Marrow Drive"
is being held on August 2, 2011 at Florida Hospital. Learn more
the Marrow 2011
The second annual Rock the Marrow Blood and Bone Marrow Drive at
Calvary Assembly of God was missing one very special person-Jamie
Jamie helped spear-head the event last year after doctors
diagnosed her with leukemia. She underwent numerous blood and
platelet transfusions and eventually two bone marrow transplants
while fighting the disease.
Jamie wanted to help other patients going through similar
battles and that’s why she helped create an event that encouraged
blood and bone marrow donation.
Unfortunately, Jamie succumbed to the disease after a
well-fought nine month battle.
Her memory and legacy lives on though because she inspired
people to give life to others in the form of blood donation.
Her father Tommy Gaillard said, “We have just been overwhelmed
and humbled by the outpouring of support and care. The people that
have sacrificed time and effort above and beyond the call of duty
and to just see the church at work, the body of Christ, the
priesthood of all believers coming together to do what we are
really called to do and that’s to be the hands and feet of Christ
in the world today.”
Giving life to others at Rock the Marrow 2011 was extra special
for Jamie’s friends and family because the event was held on what
would have been her 27th birthday.
“As a mother it blesses my heart. It really does, because we
gave life to Jamie 27 years ago and most people would probably
wonder how can you not visit her grave on her first birthday after
she passed and my answer is-she’s not there and I will see her
again soon and I can come here and I can celebrate her life, not
mourn her death, but celebrate her life, but celebrate with these
people who have come to give life to others and give others a
second chance too,” said Heidi Gaillard.
Calvary Assembly of God Pastor George Cope encouraged the
congregation to donate blood and join the National Bone Marrow
Registry. He says, “The bible says that when somebody suffers we
all suffer and when somebody rejoices we all rejoice and I guess
when we lose someone we all take the opportunity to invest in some
way in making sure that her life matters and so I’m so excited
about Calvary people stepping up, rolling up their sleeve, giving
blood and becoming a donor, just like I have and I believe it will
make a difference in somebody’s life for the future.”
Together Florida’s Blood Centers and Calvary Assembly of God
helped save more than 300 patients in honor of Jamie Gaillard.
When I met Jamie Gaillard in the summer of 2010 she was in the
fight of her life. Doctors diagnosed her with leukemia in March and
she was getting ready for a bone marrow transplant. Though she was
undergoing chemotherapy and multiple blood and platelet
transfusions she never stopped smiling.
Jamie’s faith and positive attitude inspired many as she battled
this terrible disease. She told me, “I just believe that maybe God
is allowing me to go through this because He wants me to reach
someone, even if it’s so save one other life by getting the word
out there for the registry and how to donate and even donating
blood because that’s really important in this whole thing.”
That’s why Jamie helped plan the first Rock the Marrow Blood and
Bone Marrow Drive in 2010 to help other patients receive the blood,
platelets and bone marrow they need.
Jamie was considered to be one of the lucky ones because she
found not one, but two bone marrow matches.
Shortly after Rock the Marrow 2010, Jamie underwent her first
bone marrow transplant. She thought this would be the beginning of
the end of her battle with leukemia. Unfortunately, the bone marrow
didn’t take and Jamie had to receive another transplant. The second
transplant didn’t work either.
Through it all Jamie’s faith never wavered. Jamie spent months
in the hospital and continued to be an inspiration. She even
worshiped with Calvary Assembly of God via the Internet and shortly
before she succumbed to the disease, Jamie prayed for the
congregation via Skype. See the sermon.
Jamie passed away shortly after Christmas, but her loving spirit
lives on because people are giving life to others in Jamie’s honor.
Jamie’s friends and family will host the Second Annual Rock the
Marrow Blood and Bone Marrow Drive on July 17th at
Calvary Assembly of God to help other patients like Jamie.
Calvary Pastor George Cope says, “I’m a part of the event that
is taking place, so I see it as a biblical thing. This is
what Jesus would do. If He were on Earth right now and He had
a friend that needed blood Jesus would give blood, so that’s why
we’re a part of this kind of activity.”
Pastor Cope says he hopes to collect 270 units of blood at Rock
the Marrow 2011 because it’s taking place on what would have been
Jamie’s 27th birthday.
“How awesome that the event would take place on the day that she
was born. The day that she first breathed air and
lived. Now there’s another chance that a lot of other people
will live on her birthday,” said Jamie’s mother Heidi Gaillard.
Learn more about Rock
the Marrow 2011