By Carl Norman
Special to GUIDON

FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. (May 31, 2018) — American writer and retired pediatric surgeon Bernie Siegel wrote, “One cannot get through life without pain. What we can do is choose how to use the pain life presents to us.”

That said, the Fort Leonard Wood Blood Donor Center invites everyone to celebrate the life of baby Kent June 5 by donating blood at an Armed Services Blood Program blood drive being held in his memory.

Baby Kent was the son of Brea and Capt. Brad McPherson, incoming commander of Charlie Company, 554th Engineer Battalion. He was born Jan. 9 with a congenital heart defect: a double inlet left ventricle. He died May 14.

A celebration of life blood drive for baby Kent takes place from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. June 5 at the donor center, on Fort Leonard Wood.

Medical experts estimate that five of every 100,000 newborns are born with a double inlet left ventricle. This condition finds both the left and right atrium feeding into the left ventricle and the right ventricle is either under developed or does not exist. Little Kent passed away following a surgical attempt to repair his heart at Children’s Hospital in St. Louis.

“He used quite a bit of blood before he left us,” said Callan Johnson, a close friend of the family and blood drive coordinator. “The family just wants to raise everyone’s awareness and collect blood to help other children with this defect. We want to do all we can to help make that happen.”

The Fort Leonard Wood Blood Donor Center collects blood for the ASBP. The ASBP provides blood to the military healthcare system which requires 400 units every day for patients of all ages.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the McPherson family,” said Capt. Patrick Kaer, Fort Leonard Wood Blood Donor Center officer in charge. “You never know when tragedy will strike and our mission is to give providers the tools they need when it does.”

The celebration of life blood drive for little Kent takes place from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the donor center.

“Our thanks and gratitude goes out to everyone helped make this drive a reality,” Kaer said. “What better way to remember baby Kent than to give blood to help other families who may find themselves fighting this or other illnesses or injuries? Donating is an easy process; it only takes a few minutes of your time to really make a difference.”

The ASBP drive is open to everyone 17 years old and older — military or civilian. Everyone coming out to donate will receive an ASBP t-shirt and a heart-felt “thank you.”

Potential blood donors must weigh at least 110 pounds and have been feeling well for at least three consecutive days. They must also be well hydrated and have eaten something before donating. Those wanting to donate should bring a list of foreign countries traveled to — be sure to include when, where and for how long — and a photo ID (military ID, driver’s license, etc).

To get to the Fort Leonard Wood Blood Donor Center from the post main gate, follow the blue line on Missouri Avenue until you get to West 16th Street across from Nutter Field House. Turn right on West 16th Street and follow it to Colorado and turn right. Follow Colorado to the donor center which is on the right side of the street about two blocks from the turn.

For more information about this drive, contact the center’s blood donor recruiter at 573.596.5385.

(Editor’s note: Norman is the ASBP blood donor recruiter, Fort Leonard Wood.)