TOWNSEND — Emily Hyde’s battle with cancer was thankfully brief.
The baseball-sized tumor in her chest was discovered and removed in plenty of time to save the 11-month-old child, though she would also need a blood transfusion before she began the road to recovery.
Five years later, she is still cancer-free and her parents, Paula and Jason Hyde, wanted to celebrate that landmark by giving back to those who helped them — the American Red Cross and hospitals in need of blood across the country.
“My husband and I wanted to give back,” Paula said. “This time of year, seems like there’s walks for this, walks for that, but I feel like everyone’s doing that and this doesn’t cost anybody any money.”
The result was a blood drive at the Townsend V.F.W. on Sunday, the results of which exceeded not only the average number of successful donations, but also the hoped-for total for the Sunday, June 29 event. It was co-sponsored by the combined efforts of V.F.W. Post 6538 and its Ladies Auxiliary and the American Red Cross.
Paula Hyde said one Red Cross staff member told her “a typical blood drive usually gets about 40 people,” though they had already set a desired tally of 75. They had received 60 appointments by the day of the drive, but knew there could also be a lot of walk-in donors.
Between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. — nearly an hour past the scheduled stop time — the drive received donations from 92 people, though only 88 were “successful donations,” in that they met all the criteria set by the American Red Cross, such as not leaving the country within a certain recent period of time.
The turnout was so strong that some walk-in donors were forced to wait up to two and a half hours at one point. Though the drive was well-staffed, there were only five available beds and each donation took 15 minutes. Otherwise, “we could have had over 100,” Paula noted. “You can never have enough blood.”
Along with blood donations, the staff also checked for potential bone marrow transplant matches with a swab for those who were interested.
For some, the wait was too long and they had to depart without donating, but the drive was still a major success. Paula said she had been told by one Red Cross representative that every pint donated actually helped three people and that only 5 percent of eligible people donate. She professed her heartfelt thanks to all those who donated, especially those who waited.
“We knew that it would probably be a good turnout, because we were putting fliers out through the school,” Paula said. “Sometimes a flier with a little story tends to bring more people out. It was a really good turnout.”