PENSACOLA, Fla. – Florida's real estate agent who needs rescue surgery is reaching out to the country to donate blood, and hopes that one could be a match for his very rare blood type.
Ramona Speer lives in Navarre for 20 years and is a real estate agent with American Real Estate ERA. About a week and a half ago, when Charles's husband died one year, he received a medical diagnosis that was life-threatening.
She told the News Pensacola Journal, part of the US TODAY Network, that she is not yet comfortable sharing her diagnosis in public because she is still coming to herself and trying to share her friends privately first.
But the day before Speer admitted to the Sacred Heart Hospital for surgical news gave me: they had to postpone surgery until they could get eight pints of O-negative blood that are also negative for the antigen KPB, which is one of the most rare blood types in the world.
"I understand that 4 to 7% of the population have O-negative blood," said Speer. "But the problem with that is O-negative problem, with only 2% negatively tested for the KPB antigen."
The Speer told immediately his friends and family, who came into action. The colleague Kim Stuckie began spreading the word on social media, writing jobs, sharing videos and making contact with everyone she could do.
"I just started telling everyone that I could think of it, and it was really snow," Stuckie, marketing manager of the real estate agency said. "It's really, it really grew. I heard of people donating in New Jersey and Arizona, and a friend gave me in Washington blood, too."
So far, the plan worked: Three games and donations were made since Stuckie and her friends started getting the word out. Speer was able to donate one pint of his own blood, bringing the total number of pints to four. As of Friday, Speer still needed four more pints.
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But Speer is optimistic and encourages people to donate blood and test the antigen.
"The support is fantastic, the community and my company are fantastic," she said. "Some blood banks have even said that they are so big with donors that the team do not have to handle it all."
Susan Forbes, Senior Vice President of corporate communications and public relations for OneBlood, said that donations at OneBlood centers in Escambia and Okaloosa counties have lapsed in the past week.
"Donors are showing our donor centers in the Panhandle who want to donate to her," Forbes said. "Our staff are aware of this, and as donors come in, we tag these units specifically for sending to our reference laboratory for compatibility testing."
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Donations to Speer must not only be O-negative and negative for the KPB antigen but also from a European descendant who has birth parents who are 100% of European descent.
However, even if the blood donated does not match precisely with Speer, it could still save lives.
"You may not be able to help Ramona, but you will help someone," said Stuckie, taking people to know that they are awarded. "We like, even if people are not in their game, they will still be giving blood that can save someone's life, somewhere."
Forbes said that the Speer case illustrates the need for a more diversified blood supply. Unusual Blood Bank is an organization that connects rare blood donors to those in need around the world, and OneBlood is working closely with the organization to identify people who may be able to match blood.
"We live in a multifaceted nation, and the donor pool we need is to come with a patient population," Forbes said. "You don't have to wait for a situation like this. The more people who do this habit and the more people who get tested on their blood, are the best chance that there will be more games for people in need."