PLAINS TWP. — Paxton Nathaniel Bleiler is living proof of the vital need for blood donations.
Paxton, the 2-year-old son of Eric and Heather Bleiler of Mountain Top, received three blood transfusions in the first two days of his life. Born prematurely due to a fetal maternal hemorrhage, Bleiler’s blood supply was depleted and his life depended on those transfusions.
“I stopped feeling him move inside me,” his mother said Wednesday. “We went to the Wilkes-Barre General Hospital’s emergency room and we were told Paxton was in distress and needed to be delivered. He needed those blood transfusions.”
Paxton and his parents were at The Woodlands on Wednesday afternoon — one of three sites for the American Red Cross “Celebration of Life Blood Drive” held in honor of Paxton. Heather said she and her husband now know the importance of blood donations.
“Most people think someone else will donate blood,” Heather said. “But until your loved one needs blood, then you realize that the blood you donate may save someone’s life. Your blood could save your loved one’s life.”
Local Red Cross officials said while the local blood supply remains stable, the need for blood remains constant.
Red Cross spokesman Colin Riccobon said the severe winter weather has had an effect on donations in recent days. But as temperatures start to rise above freezing, it makes it that much more important for donors to find time to donate.
“Patients, hospitals and transfusion centers are depending on donors,” Riccobon said. “Every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood. You never know when a friend, family member, or co-worker or even you will need blood. Blood must be available before it is needed. It is the blood on the shelves today that saves lives tomorrow.”
He said each unit of donated blood may help save up to three lives. “Blood cannot be manufactured,” he said. “It can only come from generous donors.”
Like Heather and Eric Bleiler, who have become frequent blood donors.
“I’ve always been afraid of needles,” said Heather, 39. “I’m still not a huge fan, but I know by donating my blood, it will go to somebody who really needs it.”
Frank Valeski of Plains Township has been donating his blood since 1967 when he was in the U.S. Navy during the height of the Vietnam War. When at boot camp, Valeski said the Navy put out an urgent call for O-negative blood — Valeski’s type.
“I’ve been giving blood ever since,” he said. “It’s good to know that somebody’s blood helped save this little boy’s life.”
Eric Bleiler, 38, said he and his wife offered to hold the blood drive in Paxton’s honor because they understand the need for having a good blood supply on hand.
“We want to raise awareness,” Eric said. “You never know when someone you care about will need blood. People are busy, that’s understandable. But it only take 20 minutes to donate blood.”
Heather said Paxton and his siblings — Xavier, 7, Alexis, 5, and Maximus, 4 — enjoy normal lives. She wishes she knew whose blood Paxton received, but that information is not available.
“There’s no way to know who donated the blood that was given to Paxton,” Heather said. “But whomever it was, my family can’t ever thank them enough.”