Lonoke community invited to give blood with Red Cross in honor of Phyllis Elam

May 2, 2014

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Phyllis Elam has been a fixture in the Lonoke School District for the past 35 years. The community can recognize her service and help save lives in her name by giving blood at the American Red Cross blood drive in her honor on May 12.

Teaching has been Elam’s passion, but more than two decades ago she wasn’t sure she would have all of those years to spend shaping students’ lives. Elam was diagnosed with ovarian cancer just minutes after giving birth to her son.

“I had surgery that day, and then another surgery after specialists reviewed my case,” Elam said. “I needed about two or three pints of blood during that ordeal. And thanks to people who were willing to give, the blood was there when I needed it.”

Last year, 1.6 million people were diagnosed with cancer. Many of them may need blood products to help during chemotherapy treatments, which attack cancer cells but can also lower blood and platelet counts. Blood transfusions can be used in treating accident victims, organ transplant recipients, premature babies and those with blood disorders like sickle cell anemia as well.

“Blood donations can help save lives,” said Scott Caswell, CEO of the Greater Ozarks-Arkansas Blood Services Region. “Someone’s donation could give a patient more time, whether a few months with loved ones or years in the classroom like Phyllis. When they’re in need of blood products, patients rely on the willingness of others to give.”

Give blood in honor of Phyllis Elam:

Monday, May 12 from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Lonoke High School South Annex Building, 501 W. Academy, in Lonoke, Ark.

Elam’s life has been touched by blood donors more than once. Her son needed multiple blood products following an accident that resulted in a severe brain injury. Once again, Elam said, the lifesaving blood was available.

“I just want to pay it forward to those who helped save my son’s life and my life. I want to help make sure the blood is there for someone else,” she said. “I’m also a big advocate of children going to college. The Red Cross blood drives provide scholarship money for students. That may be the only way they get to go, so I’m hoping we collect enough donations to get to the next scholarship level for our students.”

Elam recently received the “Educator of the Year” award from the Lonoke School District for her dedicated service. She says she’s grateful to blood donors who helped her, and now she’s happy to welcome the Red Cross into her community to try and return the favor for others.

How to donate blood

Simply call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit redcrossblood.org to make an appointment or for more information. All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental consent in Arkansas), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.

About the American Red Cross

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.