Red Cross blood drive to be held in honor of Illinois family

September 12, 2013

Three members of James family battling same disease


DU QUOIN, Ill. (Sept. 12, 2013) – When one person is diagnosed with a disease that requires hospital attention, family members are typically fast to rally on that person’s behalf. Imagine if three members of the same family were all fighting the same disease. That is the case for Gretchen James and her two children, all of whom have been diagnosed with a hereditary condition known as dyskeratosis congenita.  


It all began in 2005, when 5-year-old Dawson was taken to the hospital due to a low platelet count. He was eventually diagnosed with a disease commonly known as ITP, for which he received treatment for approximately four years. After being taken off medication and still seeing low platelet counts, a bone marrow biopsy and another round of tests revealed he had dyskeratosis congenita. Due to the hereditary nature of the disease, Dawson’s family members were tested, and his mother and sister also tested positive.


“This leaves us more susceptible to forms of cancer and other diseases,” Gretchen James said.


The James family and Marshall Browning Hospital will partner on Sept. 26 to host an American Red Cross blood drive to raise awareness of the need for blood for patients of all kinds, including those with dyskeratosis congenita.


“We want to get people to donate blood and learn why it’s important,” Gretchen James said. “It benefits a number of people in need.” 


James Family Blood Drive

Sept. 26 from 1 to 7 p.m. at Marshall Browning Hospital

900 N. Washington in Du Quoin, Ill.


The James Family Blood Drive will be held in conjunction with a bone marrow registry drive, where visitors can learn more about bone marrow donation.


How to Donate Blood

Simply call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit 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 permission in some states), 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 or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.