Mourning mother of Olympus graduate asks community to donate bloodJun 02, 2021 09:28AM ● By Heather Lawrence
Lisa Pitts donates blood May 17 at an event honoring her 18-year-old daughter Faith, who passed away in Dec. 4, 2020. (Sheri Van Bibber/American Red Cross)
By Heather Lawrence | [email protected]
When Jeff and Lisa Pitts’s youngest daughter Faith was taken to the hospital for emergency treatment of a pulmonary embolism last December, Lisa Pitts’s mind was racing. Faith had just graduated from Olympus High. She had a bright future ahead of her.
But now Faith was in the ICU, getting a blood transfusion of 110 units, more than even the Level 1 Trauma Center had in supply.
“When they told me how much blood they used, and how they would have to get more from other hospitals, the first thought that went through my head was, ‘What if another family comes here tonight and needs blood, and it’s all gone?’” Pitts said.
After a heartbreaking night in the hospital, Faith succumbed to her conditions. Pitts, a mother of four, said she felt like her best friend was gone.
“Faith was my youngest child. She was a miracle baby that came 10 years after I thought I was done having children. Sometimes she would just come into the room where I was working [at home] and hang out with me. Now the house feels too quiet,” Pitts said.
In her extreme grief, Pitts thought of a way she could honor Faith. It was by doing something she’d done her whole life, something that had given Faith a fighting chance at survival. It was something that, frankly, would get Pitts out of bed in the morning.
She donated blood.
But the Pitts family did more than that. They called the Red Cross and got in touch with local organizer Sheri Van Bibber. They started organizing community blood drives in Faith’s honor.
“When tragedies happen, and the family responds by choosing to donate blood and encouraging others to donate, it’s one of the best possible outcomes,” Van Bibber said.
“About 38% of the population is eligible to donate blood, but only 3% donates,” she continued. “May was Trauma Awareness Month, and the need for blood is high. The events that the Pitts family organizes with us will save many lives.”
The American Red Cross website www.redcrossblood.org says people can donate whole blood every 56 days. You need to be at least 16 years old (with parental permission) and weigh 110 pounds. You must be feeling well and in good health.
Donors who have “fully recovered from COVID-19 may have antibodies in their blood that are especially helpful.” Those who have had the vaccine can also donate, but should be able to tell staff which vaccine they had.
“All blood types are needed at all times,” the website says. For specific questions about eligibility, visit the website or call 1-800-733-2767.
The Pitts family will continue to organize blood drives in memory of their beautiful and lively Faith, who loved playing high school softball and volleyball, and could make friends wherever she went.
“When I think of Faith, I see a big bright light, always smiling. She loved art, loved playing video games and was a positive leader as captain of her Olympus High softball team. She would be proud of what we’re doing here today,” Pitts said.
Pitts didn’t realize her 18-year-old daughter had a pulmonary embolism – a blood clot in the lungs. The symptoms Faith experienced in the weeks leading up to her emergency were:
- Shortness of breath
- Lack of appetite
- Rapid weight loss
“We wish we would have gotten a second opinion on her initial symptoms. A blood clot for someone her age was unusual, so we weren’t thinking of it. We don’t know if blood clots run in our family, but maybe they do,” Pitts said.
Van Bibber said Faith’s family will absolutely change people’s lives as they continue to organize blood drives.
“I told my clinical staff at the event on May 17 the story behind this blood drive. When I told them, it changed everything about the day. That’s what’s so important to remember. Donating blood will save lives, and you never know when you might be the one who needs it.
“The blood that’s donated today will have far-reaching effects here in our community. In that way, Faith is still helping people. The Pitts family will never be able to know the extent of the impact Faith will have long term,” Van Bibber said.