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Blood drive hosted in honor of classmate

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The Junior Civitan club at Phil Campbell High School held a blood drive Dec. 9 to honor member Karley Welborne.

Welborne,14, was diagnosed with lymphoma on Sept. 25 and has been receiving treatment at St. Jude’s Hospital in Memphis including numerous blood transfusions.

Amy Gunderman, a Junior Civitan sponsor at Phil Campbell High School, said sponsoring the blood drive was a great idea and one developed by the students.

“We are hosting this blood drive to bring awareness to Karley’s situation and to the benefits of donating blood,” Gunderman said.

Darren Welborne is a faculty member at Phil Campbell High School as well as Karley’s father. He said seeing the kids come together and do something like this means a lot to him.

“Seeing these kids donate back to their community means a lot to me,” he said. “These kids have been through a lot and it is nice to see them give back and be a strong part of this community.”

Welborne said he has always known that Phil Campbell had great kids in the community.

“Seeing these kids help their fellow man is heart warming,” he said. “I’ve always said we have great kids here in town.”

Welborne said after the blood drive he hopes some of the kids will continue to be a part of donating in the future.

“I’m glad they are doing this blood drive today and I hope it raises some awareness,” he said. “And hopefully some of them will end up being life-long donors.”

Welborne said his daughter has handled her diagnosis very well and that she’s never asked why it had to happen to her.

“Her faith has been tremendous,” he said. “She has handled it so well and this community as well as other communities have prayed for her and been a big support for her and her family.”

Welborne said his daughter had finished her last round of chemotherapy treatment on Dec. 8 and that she looked to be doing well.

“I didn’t know they had to have as much blood as they do,” he said. “And when they get a transfusion it usually makes them fee better immediately.

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“I think that it is our responsibility to give blood because there is no other source for it,” he said. “If people knew how much it helped someone who was going through what Karley has been going through, I think more people would donate.”

Welborne said his daughter has also signed up to become part of two studies through St. Jude’s involving her chemotherapy treatment. She will be one of 40 worldwide participating in a psychological test on chemotherapy’s effect on the mind. She will also be one of 20 in the region in a study on effects of chemotherapy on fertility.

“My daughter told me that if she could help just one person from being a part of these studies it would be well worth it,” he said.  “That’s the kind of person she is.”

Another member of the Phil Campbell community, Millie Grace Baker, 3, is also battling a blood cancer. Baker’s leukemia also requires her to receive blood transfusions and blood drives such as the one hosted by Phil Campbell High School go a long way in providing patients such as Baker with the vital blood needed during treatment.

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