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Komets Host Red Cross Blood Drive In Honor Of Trainer’s Daughter With Rare Blood Disease

The community is invited to give blood in honor of Makayla Willett, the daughter of Fort Wayne Komets athletic trainer Matt Willett, at a special American Red Cross blood drive held in her name Sunday, Feb. 17, 3:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne.

The first 30 individuals with pre-registered appointments to donate at this blood drive will receive a free entry ticket to the Feb. 17 Komets game. Tickets will be available for pick up at the will call window. Those who go to give at the blood drive will also receive a voucher for a buy one get one free ticket valid for one of select future Komets games.

Makayla is a happy, smiling 5-year-old who loves dance class, bowling and Komets hockey. At age three, she was diagnosed with immune thrombocytopenic purpura, a disease that limits her production of platelets, which are critical to clotting and stopping bleeding. Living with the disease means dealing with easily bruising and cuts that are slow to heal. Her platelet count increases and decreases at random and must be regularly checked and monitored. Makayla has received platelet transfusions and plasma injections to survive, and will need more as treatment continues.

The Willett family and the Fort Wayne Komets invites the community to give blood in honor of Makayla to help those like her who may need transfusions.

“We want to raise awareness about this disease and would love to see the community giving blood to help patients like Makayla,” said Matt Willett.

“There are so many reasons why someone may need blood that we don’t even realize,” said Jenni Bertels, donor recruitment account manager for the Red Cross. “We take for granted that blood will be there at the hospital when we need it, but it can only come from generous volunteer donors. Giving blood in Makayla’s name is a wonderful way to honor her and potentially help others.”

This blood drive comes as the Red Cross is recovering from a severe blood shortage in January. Every two seconds in the United States blood is needed to respond to patient emergencies, including accident and burn victims, heart surgery and organ transplant patients, and those receiving treatment for leukemia, cancer or sickle cell disease. The Red Cross must collect more than 13,000 blood and platelet donations every day for the patients at about 2,600 hospitals nationwide, including 80 hospitals in Indiana.