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Teams’ blood drive was lifesaver for player’s father

Most people would agree that giving blood is a good deed.

When doing a good deed leads to the discovery of cancer, caught early enough to get treatment, the reasons for donating blood are multiplied infinitely.

During the 2021 Central Ohio Field Hockey Blood Drive, Bishop Watterson High School field hockey parent Aaron Adkins gave blood, only to be told by a nurse that his hemoglobin was extremely low.

A trip to his doctor revealed that he had Acute Myeloid Leukemia, despite having no knowledge he was sick.

Riley Adkins and her dad Aaron are thankful for the Central Ohio Field
Hockey Blood Drive. (Submitted photo)

“I had no symptoms before the blood drive,” Adkins said. “With this type of diagnosis, there really isn’t anything that you would notice unless you got sick and didn’t have the immunity to get better and fight it off.”

Adkins has been through a gauntlet of treatments and surgeries since, including being admitted to the James Cancer Hospital for intensive chemotherapy 10 days after the drive.

“I was there for about 30 days,” Adkins recalled. “I then came home and there were still signs of residual disease present.”

His brother, Daniel Adkins, was a match and he gave his bone marrow in December 2021.

The transplant was successful and, while there is a very small margin of error, chemotherapy treatments have continued with nine rounds of chemo coming in stretches of five to seven days per round.

“My goal with the doctors’ plan is to complete 12 rounds before closing this chapter,” Adkins said.

Adkins always believed giving blood was an important and noble cause. But it wasn’t until he had this experience at the James that he saw just how much blood is needed beyond what is traditionally thought of in emergency rooms.

“I think that many people think, probably like I did previously, that the majority of blood drives are used for things in trauma and accidents,” he said. “I just never associated the fact that there is such a huge supply that is needed for those folks who have a regular treatment plan for going through chemotherapy and bone marrow transplants.

“There is light at the end of the tunnel (for me), but this is going to be a tool that is needed along the way. So, my ask is that everyone takes the time to do that because there are a lot of folks who are fighting their battle and making progress, but without that donation, they can’t move forward.”

Riley Adkins, who will be entering her senior year at Watterson this fall, and Maggie Adkins, another daughter who is entering her freshman year and is trying out for the field hockey team, will be taking part in the 2023 blood drive in early August.

“It has definitely taken on a whole new meaning for us,” said Watterson coach Janet Baird. “We’ve been doing the blood drive but there were years when we were trying to get people to participate, and it was tough.

“But this all happened and brought it back to what it really means, not just for that family but for any family.”

Family and friends of teams involved in the event will be able to donate blood at the Discover Christian Church-Family Life Center at 2900 Martin Road in Dublin, Aug. 4 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Games will be held at Thomas Worthington High School Aug. 5, with Rocky River Magnificat, New Albany, Olentangy, Olentangy Liberty, Worthington Kilbourne, Upper Arlington, Watterson and Thomas Worthington competing.

At 2:30 p.m., the Doug Campbell Scholarship Award will be presented to a player who has overcome adversity and been courageous.

“This is an incredible event that has been going on for 25 years,” Thomas Worthington coach Terri Simonetti Frost said.

“We have saved over 9,000 lives. I am proud to be part of one of Central Ohio’s largest blood drives and will continue to run this great event every year that I am coach at Thomas Worthington.”

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