Students came together to donate 15 units of blood in an emergency blood drive held on March 7 in front of the Wagstaff Gymnasium.
The drive was organized for a Tyler Junior College student named Joseph Heeger who was in a serious motorcycle accident on Feb. 27. Heeger flew through a windshield, after a man pulled out in frount of him, on Broadway.
“He broke everything except his head, neck, and his spine,” said TJC freshman and friend, Kayla Irizarry. “There was no paralysis, but he has a lot of bones to reconstruct and a lot of things to put back together.”
While there is no spinal paralysis or damage to internal organs, Joe has already gone through many surgeries. His left arm was broken six times in inch-sized pieces, and the smaller bone in his arm is missing a piece about seven inches in length. He has had a complete reconstruction of his left knee, and one of hips is in a halo because it is broken into several pieces.
“He had bones sticking out of his arms. When [doctors] were doing surgeries on them, they told him that they had to go back to WWI surgery plans of how to deal with broken bones because they did not know how to deal with them. They had to research it,” said TJC freshman and friend Jacob Hardy.
While Heeger has been through many surgeries, he is recovering quickly, and is now able to sit up in a wheelchair.
“[Doctors] said that he would be in ICU for three weeks, and he was out within five days. He is healing very fast,” said Hardy. “He is undergoing rehab right now. They are trying to get him to move his limbs and stuff like that.”
Through it all, the TJC community, his friends, and his church have been there to help Heeger.
“He has cards and food galore and candy that he can’t eat because he has a broken jaw. He tells us to eat his candy for him,” said Hardy.
“The little kids at church signed a huge card that they made [out of] one of those big poster boards and signed it,” said Irizarry. “There is about an eight inch piece of [his] bone that nobody could find in the wreckage, and one of the little boys set out to find the bone on Broadway.”
Blood can still be donated in Heeger’s name by giving blood at one of the drives happening on campus in April.
“April is regional university and college blood drive awareness month,” said Dianne Martin, who is in charge of donor recruitment and consultation for Carter Blood Care Stewart Center.
In honor of April, Sigma Kappa Delta will be hosting a drive on April 8 in the Apache Rooms, and Associate Degree Nursing Program is hosting a drive on April 14.
Anyone who donates will be entered into a drawing for a $100 gas card, and at the end of the month; someone will win a card worth a year’s worth of free gas, or $1200.
Students wanting their blood to go toward Heeger need to tell the workers at the time of donation.
“Someone uses blood in Smith County about every two seconds, said Martin. “Over 44,000 units of blood are used in the United States every day.”
For more information on what to expect when donating, or to schedule an appointment to donate contact Dianne Martin at (903) 571-8200.