A Maryville Community Blood Drive will be held on September 24.

By Kathryn Rice

One of the things people take for granted is there will be blood available, if it is needed.

There’s no magic involved in having readily available blood supplies; it’s all of the everyday people who take the time out of their busy days and lives to donate during a blood drive in their community.

There’s often no warning when those transfusions will be needed, which is what makes those donated blood units so important.

One such emergency situation concerned three-year-old Heath Coffelt, son of Megan and Luke Coffelt. The family, including sister Hallie, lives on a farm near Skidmore.

On July 1, Heath woke in the middle of the night complaining of a stomachache. On July 2, he developed a fever of 101º and diarrhea. By July 3, the diarrhea turned into straight blood. His mother, Megan, took him to the emergency room at Clarinda Regional Health Center in Clarinda, IA.

“They took stool samples, blood samples and blood cultures, and started an IV,” Megan said. “Within two hours of being there or less, the ambulance from Children’s Hospital in Omaha was on the way to transport him.

“On Thursday the 4th, they told us he had tested positive for E. Coli 0157. There is no treatment for E. Coli, just supportive care, IV fluids, medication for pain and nausea, etc. On Saturday, they put in a nasogastric tube which goes up the nose, down the throat and into the stomach.

“They used this as a feeding tube as he was not able to eat. This particular strain of E. Coli can progress into what is called HUS. Unfortunately for our little guy, it did,” Megan explained.

According to the National Kidney Foundation, hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) is a condition that affects the blood and blood vessels. It results in the destruction of blood platelets, the cells involved in clotting, a low red blood cell count or anemia and kidney failure due to damage to the tiny blood vessels of the kidneys.

“With HUS, your body attacks itself,” Megan said. “Heath then went into renal failure. On July 9, he went into surgery to have his hemodialysis catheter or HD line placed for dialysis. During surgery, he received his first blood and platelet transfusion. He had his first round of dialysis that day. He had a total of eight or nine rounds.

“He received five blood transfusions and two platelet transfusions. On July 24th, we got to leave the hospital and come home. He will not require any more transfusions as the HUS and E. Coli are resolved.

“His kidney function will be monitored for the rest of his life,” Megan said. “The lowest his hgb got was 4.1, his platelets down to 21. Without the blood and platelet transfusions, our little boy would not be here today.”

A Bible verse the Coffelts clung to during this time was Joshua 1:9: “Be strong and courageous; do not be discouraged for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

“There were five other kids in the hospital when Heath was in with the same thing,” Megan said. “The Midwest has many cases just like Heath’s every year. Donating your blood would help save those children as well.”


The Maryville Community Blood Drive will be from 11 am to 7 pm, Tuesday, September 24 at the First United Methodist Church, 102 North Main Street, Maryville. For more information, contact Evie Church at 660.582.2671 or echurch39@gmail.com.