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Hundreds of Alaskans Answer Call and Help US Coast Guardsman in Need

ANCHORAGE, Alaska - US Coast Guard Seaman Shawn Debenport received many life-saving plasma transfusions recently. The Coast Guard is now giving back to other Alaska patients in need by holding a blood drive in Debenport’s honor and paying tribute to the hundreds of donors that saved his life. The blood drive is 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday, July 2, at Peterson Building, 510 L Street.

Debenport has a rare blood disorder, TTP (thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura-hemolytic uremic syndrome). The disorder causes his platelets to “destroy themselves,” Debenport said. Based out of Kodiak, Debenport, 21, came to Anchorage for treatment. He had plasma pheresis transfusions several days a week in May and June and received hundreds of units of plasma. About half the orders of plasma from Blood Bank of Alaska during that time were a part of his treatment.

Blood Bank of Alaska called, emailed and contacted hundreds of Alaska blood donors to ensure the continued availability of plasma products for Debenport. The Alaska blood donor community responded to this need. More than 400 Alaska blood donors donated blood and helped Debenport. “If it wasn’t for them, he wouldn’t be here,” Shawn’s mother Karrie Debenport said from her home in Louisiana. She is very thankful and grateful to the donors in Alaska who saved her son’s life.

"The turnout of donors to help was tremendous,” Director of Operations Roy Allen said. “It is during times like this that shows that Alaskans are really special. Please come in to donate as patient needs continue during the summer.”

Lt. Commander Patrick Barelli of the US Coast Guard Cutter Alex Haley said that Debenport is a productive and valuable member of their crew. “He showed up to work in the morning, and the next day he was in Anchorage with his life in peril,” Barelli said. “Coworkers become family. I can’t imagine where we’d be without (blood donations).” Barelli hopes Debenport will recover and be able to return to work soon. “He’s always got a home on the Alex Haley.”

Blood Bank of Alaska would like to thank all the donors that came in and helped Debenport and that give the gift of life. The public is invited to donate blood in Shawn Debenport’s honor and pay tribute to the donors that helped save Debenport’s life. Call 222-5630 to make an appointment or come to the Coast Guard blood drive on Monday. http://www.bloodbankofalaska.org/drives/USCGBloodDrivePoster070212.pdf

Alaska’s Blood Supply

Alaska’s blood supply is critical for A Negative and B Negative blood types. Type A Negative and B Negative donors should donate as soon as possible. All donors should make appointments to donate to ensure a sufficient blood supply. To meet ongoing patient needs, Blood Bank of Alaska must see 700 blood donors each week. More donors are needed, especially with the upcoming Fourth of July holiday. Recently, only about 600 donors are coming in each week, 14 percent less than needed. Donors should call (907) 222-5630 to schedule a convenient time to give. Call (907) 456-5645 in the Fairbanks area.

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