Boy, 8, grateful for blood donations

Cortell Donaldson
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We've all heard the phrase, "donate blood, save a life." But few people get the chance to meet the person whom their blood was able to save. Dozens of local blood donors had that opportunity recently when they met eight-year-old Cortell Donaldson.

Cortell is like many eight-year-old boys. He's shy in front of a group of strangers and has very few words when asked a question.

"You want to be a fireman. Can you tell me why?" he was asked.

"Because I saw a big fire," he said.

But unlike most young boys, Cortell was born with a serious blood disorder called sickle cell disease. It makes it hard for his blood to deliver oxygen to his body and has caused a long list of health problems.

"When he was 27 months or two and a half, was when he had his stroke," said Dr. Mark Heiney.

Since then, Cortell has required new blood through regular transfusions to stay healthy.

"You can always tell when he's ready for a transfusion because he is tired, he lays around a lot. His eyes become more yellow," said Karon Donaldson, Cortell's grandmother.

Every month, Cortell receives about four units of healthy blood to replace his sick blood. That's nearly 50 units a year from people like Chi Westerhold.

Chi is one of many who was invited to a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet Cortell, a recipient of their blood. Chi's first and only donation went to help Cortell.

"That couldn't have been a better special gift, personally," said Chi.

Channing Gappens was youngest donor who met Cortell. She was just 16 when she raised her sleeve.

"I think it's awesome that I could give to somebody so young, so I'm just happy," she said.

Stacy Spurgeon just happens to work with Cortell's grandmother, but never knew how big of a role she played in the family until now.

"That was even more special because I see her every day. We work in the same building and then it's her grandson. It's so exciting," said Spurgeon.

Then there's Jon Stanton, one of the biggest donors. He has given 80 times over 30 years simply as a way to give back. But it's the one unit he gets to put a face on that will mean the most.

"God put you on earth for a reason and this might be one small reason to be here," he said.

"Thank you for giving me blood," Cortell told his donors.

"I hope everyone out there goes and donates because Cortell is the perfect example of what difference one person can make," said Chi. 

WTHR Blood Drive

WTHR is teaming up with the Indiana Blood Center to ensure an adequate blood supply for Central Indiana.

The blood drive is scheduled for Friday, August 2, from 7:00 am to 4:00 pm, and Saturday, August 3, from 8:00 am to 2:00 pm. All eight Indiana Blood Center donor locations will participate.

You can make a difference by scheduling your appointment to donate simply by clicking here. The Indiana Blood Center also accepts "walk-ins" on both days of the blood drive.