Birthday blood drive celebrates life in Park Ridge
Bravely battling a rare and aggressive form of Stage 4 non-Hodgkin's lymphoma he was diagnosed with in 2013, Jimmy Rancich has since decided that hosting a community blood drive at his Park Ridge home is how he wants to celebrate his birthday.
On Sunday, July 14, the soon-to-be 23-year-old will host the third annual "Donate and Celebrate with Jimmy Blood Drive," featuring a Vitalant Bloodmobile parked in front of the Rancich residence at 930 S. Broadway from noon to 5 p.m.
Two previous birthday blood drives resulted in more than 100 blood donations, with each pint helping to support three lives.
Rancich's body has gone through more in the last seven years than most people endure in a lifetime. Diagnosed just before his junior year at Maine South, he has since received a stem cell transplant and numerous surgeries for complications stemming from his cancer treatments.
A diagnosis of secondary brain cancer in the fall of 2014 required additional surgeries, chemotherapy and blood transfusions.
"We want to show our gratitude to those who supported Jimmy, as well as those who we have never met, but have selflessly donated blood in order to help those in need," said mom Helen Rancich, who smiled when noting the block party atmosphere that surrounds the blood drive.
Now entering his senior year at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Rancich is as adamant as ever in his efforts to tell the world how important it is to donate blood. After all, it was all of the blood transfusions that played a key role in making him feel instantly better during his treatments.
"As a cancer patient who needed many transfusions, I know how energizing a blood transfusion can make you feel," said Rancich, who had a rare form of lymphoma and underwent several rounds of chemotherapy, six weeks of radiation, a stem cell transplant, multiple surgeries and many blood transfusions.
"Battling the disease was much harder and tougher than I ever imagined it could have been. I don't even know how many blood and platelet transfusions I've had. I just know I'm so grateful for the way it made me feel and the way they saved my life."
The blood transfusions, more than anything, he said, gave him the will to keep going.
"You feel like you've been hit by a truck. Your body aches everywhere. You're tired, you're nauseous, then you get a blood transfusion and it is replenishing and energizing, and you feel like a whole new person after one," he said.
To schedule an appointment for the Donate and Celebrate with Jimmy Blood Drive, visit www.vitalant.org, scroll down and search for Group Code 835B, or call (877) 258.4825. Perspective donors can also email drive coordinator Helen Rancich at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In preparation for their donation, donors are asked to eat well, stay hydrated and arrive with proper identification, including picture ID. The donation appointment takes about an hour (with the donation itself taking only around 10 minutes) and is both safe and comfortable.
"Vitalant is grateful for the Rancich family and their ongoing desire to host this drive, as the need for blood is great at this time in the summer," said Eva Quinley, regional executive director.
"Patients, their families, and the hospitals in the Chicago area that Vitalant serves depend on us to deliver on our promise to provide a safe and ample blood supply."
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