Family Remembers Son as They Raise Awareness of Blood Donations

Aurora, NE-- 'Tis the season for giving, whether it's presents, joy, or good tidings. But for those in failing health one gift can mean the difference between life and death.

During this holiday season one family is missing a son who passed away after a battle with cancer.

"You don't have to get sick to get better." That was the motto of 16-year old Jacob Peters as he fought lymphoma and leukemia.

Jacob's mother Shari said, "And he never asked, 'Why me?' He never felt sorry for himself. He just tackled it head on."

"That's the way he did everything. Like I said, there was no sugar coating with Jacob and everything that got into his way was an obstacle that needed to be conquered. He wasn't going to work around it, he was going to go through it," added Jacob's father Gary.

His father still remembers the last thing he said to Jacob before he expectantly died.

"They're going to intubate and sedate you, you could be out for a couple days, you could be out for a week. But when you get up, when you wake up, you will feel better. And I looked down at his right hand and he gave me a thumbs up," said Gary, remembering the last words he said to his son.

For Jacob to fight his cancer, he needed blood and platelets from the American Red Cross Bank.

Gary said, "It was critical that he got blood products in order to be able to continue to fight. It's like going into a boxing match with one hand tied behind your back. Well, if you don't have any blood products, you have both hands tied behind your back."

However, there was a problem with getting Jacob what he needed.

"The Nebraska Medical Center didn't know if they could get their hands on some of the blood products he needed because the blood bank was out. They didn't know where they were going to be able to get these from," said Gary. "That kind of struck a cord with me that I need to get on board and I need make sure that I donate and that I encourage other people to donate."

"Because you never want to hear that they may not have what you need. We couldn't believe that we were hearing it," added Shari.

Giving blood is important because you can't just give it to someone you care about when they need it.

Gary explained, "Jacob and I had the same blood type. I'm sitting beside his bed, I've got what he needs inside my body and I can spare a pint of blood, but I can't give it to him directly. They have to donate, it has to go through the screening process before they can then give it to the patient."

Gary Peters has one message for those hesitant to donate blood.

"Look around the room at Christmas and decide whether you would give a pint of blood for somebody in that room. Because when you're sitting at that table, I can guarantee at least one of those persons has had or will need a transfusion," he said.

The American Red Cross is holding Holiday Blood Drives around Central Nebraska and in Lincoln.

In Lincoln on Monday, Dec. 23 from 11:30 to 5:30 at Wilderness Ridge, 1800 Wilderness Woods Place.

In Grand Island on Friday, Dec. 27 from 11:30 to 5:30 at the YWCA, 211 E. Fonner Park Rd.

In Hastings on Dec. 27 from 11:30 to 5:30 at First St. Paul's Lutheran Church, 501 N. Burlington St.

In Kearney on Dec. 27 from 11:30 to 5:30 at the American Red Cross, 520 W. 48th St.

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