High school students organize blood drive for 16-year-old in Murray

Oct 18, 2023, 6:25 PM | Updated: Oct 19, 2023, 7:44 am

MURRAY — Students at Murray High School will gather at the Murray City Library on Friday, but they won’t be checking out books, instead, they’ll be giving.

What normally is a space for learning, will turn into a place to donate blood. It’s an idea the Murray High School football team proposed.

“It’s just been an incredible thing to watch and to see them really just kind of pour their hearts into supporting that effort,” Jeremiah Lafranca said.

He is executive director of the American Red Cross Salt Lake Chapter. He said the efforts will help fill the national blood shortage.

Murray High School football team wear red wristbands.

Murray High School football team wears red wristbands and armbands to support Kate Macfarlane as they play. (KSL TV)

Sixty percent of Americans are eligible to donate blood, but Lafranca said only 3% actually donate.

“Someone you know has been impacted by the need for blood,” he said.

For Murray High School students, that someone is Kate Macfarlane.

At a sweet 16 years old, Macfarlane is a junior in high school, diagnosed with a rare blood disease.

“She’s the most inclusive, kind-hearted kid there is,” Jill Macfarlane, Kate’s mom said.

That is what Kate Macfarlane gives to all around her, but now it’s time for others to give back.

Two years ago, Kate Macfarlane was diagnosed with aplastic anemia, meaning her bone marrow doesn’t make enough new blood cells for her body to function properly.

“These whole, entire two years she’s been undergoing blood transfusions to stay alive,” her mother said.

Kate Macfarlane has had 24 blood transfusions, each time receiving about two bags of blood. It takes about two donors to fill those bags.

“So, 48 people have kept Kate alive these past two years,” Jill Macfarlane said.

Due to iron buildup in her body, transfusions are no longer an option and Kate Macfarlane needs a bone marrow transplant.

That’s when her 14-year-old sister comes in. Leah, a freshman in high school, was a perfect match for Kate Macfarlane.

Leah and Kate Macfarlane

Leah (left) is a perfect bone marrow donor match for her older sister Kate (right). The transplant is scheduled for the week before Halloween. (Jill Macfarlane)

“She’s nervous that she has to do this big procedure, but she’s really grateful that she gets to be the one to save her sister,” Jill Macfarlane said.

On Friday, the two sisters will start the process of bone marrow transplant treatment.

Kate will be in the hospital for about a month, spending 100 days total in isolation to reduce the risk of her body rejecting the bone marrow transplant.

Leah’s bone marrow will have to re-grow after her donation, which will take a few weeks of recovery.

As their treatments begin, their fellow students will host a blood drive — something Jill Macfarlane said she hopes people will take seriously.

“I’ve seen blood drives and never even given them a second look until it’s my daughter that they’re keeping alive,” she said.

The blood drive goes from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Murray City Library, located at 166 E. 5300 South.

Donors can also schedule an appointment at other locations using redcrossblood.org or calling 1-800-733-2767.

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High school students organize blood drive for 16-year-old in Murray