Five years ago Barb Smith began organizing Red Cross blood drives in honor of her two children Violet and Ian, who both rely on regular blood infusions to stay healthy.
“It’s very humbling to see people there that want to give in honor of my children and also to help other people that they don’t know,” Smith said. “That’s why I love doing the blood drive through the Red Cross because it’s not only helping my kids indirectly, it’s helping others as well.”
Smith’s two children each have a Primary Immunodeficiency Disease (PI), a genetic condition that does not allow their bodies’ immune system to function properly and fight off bacteria. PI makes the children especially susceptible to infection and recurrent health problems.
Although there is no cure for the disease, regular blood infusions allow the children to live normal lives.
Because of this, 9-year-old Violet and 7-year-old Ian spend every other week at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles where they receive an intravenous treatment of blood plasma and medication, consisting of more than 100 donor’s blood plasma.
To support her own children and others with similar diseases, Smith will host her annual blood drive Feb. 10 at Grace Baptist Church to share her family’s story, encourage community members to donate and thank donors who participate.
“When you come in to the blood drive I have a table set up with all about immunodeficiency and what it is and what it looks like and what treatment looks like and why blood is important to us,” Smith said. “I’m there all day for every drive so I am getting to know people, telling them why it is a special drive and telling them to come back because we do another blood drive at the children’s school every year that’s been going on for five years.”
Over the years Smith has seen friends and met strangers at the all-day event, which had more than 100 people donate blood last year.
“I think the first year we got maybe 30 to 40 people, but just last year we had over 100 people,” Smith said. “It’s fantastic it’s only gone up… Last year we doubled the staff of the Red Cross and we doubled the space so it’s been amazing.”
Donors include friends, people from Grace Baptist, walk-ins from the community and regular Red Cross donors.
“I’m very touched that people to come year after year or new people walk in,” Smith said.
In the future, Smith hopes to continue and expand the blood drives for the rest of her life.
“We’re hoping to keep expanding, I’d love to do one in spring and one in winter, that’s the goal,” she said. “My passion is even stronger now. I will probably continue this until I am no longer physically able to do it, I am that passionate about it.”
This year’s blood drive in honor of Violet Smith and Ian Smith will be held on Feb. 10 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Grace Baptist Church Conference Center, located at 22833 Copper Hill Dr.
To schedule an appointment for the blood drive, visit redcrossblood.org and enter Sponsor Code: VIOLETANDIAN or contact Barb Smith at (661) 373-8458.
On Twitter as @_ChristinaCox_