Blood drive keeps mom’s legacy alive

By Jeff Gates Contributing writer

May 9, 2014

Honor thy mother.

That was Kelly Nicolaysen’s motivation as she organized a blood drive on Monday, May 5 at Fairhaven School outside London. Her mother, Patty Ringhiser, passed away in March 2013 from Wegener’s Disease. The disease affects the autoimmune system.

Facilitated by the American Red Cross, 22 pints of blood were collected — exceeding Nicolaysen’s pre-drive goal of 20.

Nicolaysen, of London, is a service coordinator for the Madison County Board of Developmental Disabilities, and received support from a number of colleagues who donated on that day. She was grateful, knowing how much previous donations helped her mother through her medical struggles, she said.

“Wegener’s is a rare disease in which blood vessels become inflamed — a condition called vasculitis — and are found in affected tissues,” Nicolaysen said. “It’s an autoimmune disorder in which the body’s defense system attacks itself and destroys normal body tissue.”

The disease affects one in every 30,000 to 50,000 people. The inflammation from the disease can affect various parts of the body, such as the respiratory tract (windpipe, sinuses, and lungs) and the kidneys. According to Nicolaysen, the disease shut down her mother’s kidneys.

“Once diagnosed with her autoimmune disease, my mom had three blood transfusions, and multiple bags of new blood given to her,” Nicolaysen said. “Without donations from the Red Cross, she never would have survived past that initial week in the hospital.”

The Red Cross relies heavily on blood drives to collect the desired 800 pints per day in the Central Ohio region, officials said. Nicolaysen said she wanted to think of a way to give back to the organization that helped her mother so much.

“The American Red Cross helped keep my mom alive for as long as they could,” Nicolaysen said. “I will forever be grateful to them.”