July 3rd Dedicated to Memory of Beloved Volunteer

June 28, 2010

Christopher Gipson Encouraged Others to Give, While Battling Disease

The local American Red Cross has dedicated July 3rd to the memory of a beloved volunteer and advocate, Christopher Gipson.  At birth, Christopher was diagnosed with Sickle Cell Disease, an inherited blood disorder that is characterized by chronic anemia and episodes of excruciating pain.  On July 3, 2008 Christopher lost his battle with Sickle Cell due to a massive stroke.  The Greater Chesapeake and Potomac (GC&P) Blood Services Region has dedicated July 3rd to Christopher’s memory, and asks that all eligible donors schedule a donation appointment in his honor by calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).  Platelet donors may call 1-800-272-2123.

“The 4th of July Holiday weekend is one of the most difficult times of year to collect blood,” states Gary J. Ouellette, CEO for the GC&P Region. “Christopher Gipson is one of the many patients who throughout his life, depended on blood donors even during the holidays.  By giving blood this weekend, donors can honor Christopher’s memory by ensuring a safe and adequate blood supply for other patients in need.”  The GC&P Region has been experiencing a decline in donations over the past several weeks, which has lead to a critical shortage of Type O negative blood.  Type O negative is often used by Sickle Cell Disease patients, as well as others in need.  The appeal for this blood type continues, and Type O negative donors are asked to schedule appointments as soon as possible.

Throughout his 21 years of life, Christopher received blood transfusions every six weeks. As a way of educating people in the community about the constant, daily need for blood, Christopher and his mother Cynthia served as testimonial speakers for the Greater Chesapeake and Potomac Blood Services Region. On behalf of the American Red Cross, the Gipson’s participated in a number of high profile blood drives and educational programs, spoke at press conferences and attended special events designed to raise local awareness of the need for blood donors.

Christopher lived an extremely exciting and eventful life. He competed in bowling and track & field for the Maryland State Special Olympics. Christopher devoted his life to educating and helping members of the community that were dealing with Sickle Cell Disease. Often these patients require regular transfusions to manage the symptoms of the disease.  In most cases, this blood must be specially matched and donated by other African Americans.  For that reason, Christopher and his mother dedicated their lives to encouraging more African Americans to donate blood.

Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental permission in some states), meet weight and height requirements (110 pounds or more, depending on their height) and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood.  Please bring your Red Cross blood donor card or other form of positive ID when you come to donate.

Information about Regional Blood Donor Centers or community blood drive locations and times can be found at www.redcrossblood.org/gcp.  Business and community groups that are willing to hold blood drives are asked to call 1-800-787-9282, x4925 for information. For volunteer information, please call 1-800-272-0094 x1.