By ELIZABETH GOLDEN
The third annual Jordan LaFond Blood Drive is set to begin Saturday at the American Red Cross Hays Blood Donation Center, 208 E. Eighth.
The drive is in honor of Jordan, who lived only 34 days due to a birth defect called congenital diaphragmatic hernia. CDH is a rare condition in which the baby is born without a diaphragm, causing his organs to push against his heart and lungs.
According to the Diaphragmatic Hernia Research & Exploration at Columbia University Medical Center, CDH affects more than 1,000 babies each year.
"Jordan lives a month. During that time, he was given multiple blood transfusions daily," said Brandi LaFond, Jordan's mother. "Through that, we realized the importance of giving blood."
LaFond, a Hays resident, said she and her husband, Michael, took Jordan to a children's hospital in Philadelphia, where one day they ran out of blood.
"It surprised me that a hospital that gives out blood on a daily basis ran out of blood," she said. "Just going through that experience, I realized without blood donors, our time with Jordan would have been drastically shorter."
Jan Hale, communications program manager at American Red Cross, said the blood drive gives donors the opportunity to remember Jordan and help someone in need.
"The blood he received during that time allowed him to have more time with his family," she said. "The family reached out to (American Red Cross) and wanted to have an 'in honor' drive."
In recent years, Hale has seen an increase in "paying it forward" after a family has received blood.
"They are so grateful since they have seen the experience first-hand," she said. "I cannot imagine what this family has been through, and then they still want to give back to the community. I'm in awe that people have the capacity to think of others during a time like that."
All blood donated during the week will go toward the Jordan LaFond Blood Drive.
"Basically, it all goes to the Red Cross," said Catherine Younger, donor recruitment representative for American Red Cross. "But this is a special event where we can draw in some donors that have interest in donating to the cause of Jordan. It just gives light to his cause and gives the family a chance to give back to the community."
According to American Red Cross, blood collected at the blood drive could be used for heart-surgery patients, organ-transplant recipients, premature babies, women with complications during childbirth, and patients receiving treatment for leukemia, cancer or other diseases, such as sickle-cell disease.
Younger said 56 people donated last year, and this year she is hoping for 10 to 12 donors per day.
The drive begins Saturday and continues through March 7, except Sunday and Monday when the donation center is closed.
After the close of the drive, anyone who donated will be eligible to win a gift card to Gella's Diner and Lb. Brewing Co.
"It's a great cause," Younger said. "I just hope everyone will come down and support it."