When Beth Haun posted on her Facebook page asking her friends and family to donate blood for her mother, Ruth Marie Haun, who had just been in a serious car accident, she said she couldn’t believe the response.
According to Marsh Regional Blood Center totals, 83 people donated to the center the first week following the two-car accident on Love Street in Erwin on Feb. 6, in which Ruth suffered serious injuries.
The extent of Ruth’s injuries included a cracked and fractured pelvis, cracked kneecaps, crushed ankles, broken femurs, broken tibias and fibulas and 11 broken ribs.
Beth said her mom was first taken to Unicoi County Memorial Hospital and then flown by Wings Air Rescue to Johnson City Medical Center.
“She was critical when she came in,” Beth said. “When they let me see her, I looked up and I noticed she had blood going. It kind of worried me because I knew she had AB-negative (blood type), because she had been donating for a long time. I was kind of worried about that because ... I knew (her blood type) was so rare.”
A heart attack scare prevented the immediacy of Ruth’s first surgery, but the signs and symptoms resulted from the actual impact of the accident.
“When she was more OK to have her first surgery, then that’s when he, one of the doctors, told me it would be better to get blood from around the area, just so we have enough for her because she’s going to need multiple surgeries,” Beth said.
Knowing that she, her dad and her brother couldn’t donate blood for her mother because they all had a positive blood type, Beth said she took to Facebook and asked those with any negative blood type to donate.
She said almost immediately people responded to her post and asked where they could donate.
Not fully knowing herself, Beth said she was told by one of her mother’s doctors that their supply comes from the Marsh Regional Blood Center. When she called the center, Adam Ellsworth, donor recruiter for Marsh, had already been taking calls from those interested in donating for Ruth.
“I came in Monday morning, had an email letting us know that there was a large trauma over in Erwin and that our blood supplies had been hit pretty hard and that we would need to start recruiting relatively heavily to make up some of the blood that was lost,” Ellsworth said. “About 20 minutes later … (I) started getting phone calls that didn’t stop for the rest of the day.”
He said the center in Johnson City regularly sees around 7 to 10 donors a day, but said that Monday was a little different.
“That day we had about 40 donors come out, so we were overwhelmed and had to ask for support staff to come over from Kingsport and … the staff actually stayed about two hours after closing to get everybody in the door,” Ellsworth said. “Every single person who came in that day said ‘I’m here for Ruth. What do I need to do?’ So they were all new donors, very few of them were past donors with Marsh.”
He said the unusual Monday traffic in the center continued into Tuesday and the rest of the week, but extra provisions and staff made things easier to finish out the week.
“The chairs stayed full. We have four chairs back there, but only half of them get used at any given time and … it was incredible. It was a nice change,” Ellsworth said. “It is something we would like to see happen more often. We have a lot of traumas in our area and … it’d be nice for more families to rally behind their loved ones.”
Beth said Thursday afternoon that her mother was in a step-down room from the Intensive Care Unit and that her next surgery was scheduled for that Friday.
She said there have been a few times since her mother’s accident that she wasn’t sure she was going to make it, but said the support of her friends and family, as well as those who donated, really kept her going.
“You just wouldn’t believe people, what’s in their hearts. It’s wonderful,” she said. “There’s no way I can repay people for this. There’s nothing in this world I can do to repay them for saving my mom’s life … which is what they’ve done (by) donating their blood.”
One blood drive has already been held in Ruth’s honor at Peterson Family Healthcare and another drive is scheduled for Monday at Nuclear Fuel Systems in Erwin from noon to 6 p.m.
For more information on donating or about the local blood drives in the area, visit www.marshblood.com.