Longtime donor utilizes system

FAIRMONT – Jerry Von Feldt of Fairmont was a dedicated blood donor and Red Cross volunteer who likely saved many lives. Now, current donors are returning the favor, helping keep Von Feldt alive.

Von Feldt was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in 2006.

“I went through six months of chemo at Rochester, and it was in remission for five years,” Von Feldt said.

However, doctors kept tabs on his blood cells, which were declining. By April 2012, the cancer was back. Von Feldt underwent the same chemotherapy he did the first time but it did not yield the same results.

“I was at the Hope House in Rochester for four months,” Von Feldt said. “I did a different type of chemo two months, but still no success.”

Finally, he got a newer, third type of chemo. While it is working for Von Feldt, it has left him blood transfusion-dependent.

“I just finished my 10th round,” Von Feldt said. “I feel lucky because I don’t feel sick and I don’t look sick. Just don’t ask me to walk around the block.”

Every 10 to 12 days, Von Feldt needs two units of blood for his red blood cells and hemoglobin.

“I have to allow myself to have this situation,” Von Feldt admits. “A lot of people when they get sick, they mentally resist it … I have to admit I’m not Superman anymore.”

Fairmont’s annual three-day summer blood drive begins from noon to 6 p.m. today at the Holiday Inn in Fairmont. It also will run 1-7 p.m. Wednesday and 9 a.,m. to 2 p.m. Thursday.

All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients.

To make an appointment to donate blood, call (800) RED-CROSS, or visit redcrossblood.org

All presenting donors will receive a $5 food certificate for Green Mill restaurant.