In order to promote awareness of the upcoming 15th Annual Okeechobee Blood Roundup to be held at the Freshman Campus Auditorium on Nov. 21 and 22, we share stories of local Okeechobee folks who have received donations of blood and the difference it made in their lives.
Grand Oaks is an assisted living facility in Okeechobee, under the direction of Administrator Ruth Pickering, who is also director of nursing. A dynamic woman with lots of energy, you would never know she was run over by a school bus when she was 6 years old.
It was 1979; they lived in a town smaller than Okeechobee. The bus stopped, the driver opened the door and Ruth got off. He then got up to quiet some kids making noise. When it quieted down, he returned to his seat, assuming Ruth had gone around the curve in the road. But she hadn’t. She had bent down to pick up something. The bus ran over her tearing her liver and kidneys and crushing her pelvis.
The driver stopped, picked her up and put her on somebody’s porch and left. A neighbor ran to her home, her mother called an ambulance. The drive to the hospital was comparable to someone in Okeechobee driving over to Lawnwood Hospital in Fort Pierce. She remembers one blood transfusion, but the probability was she had several more. Her leg was put in traction, but she had to relearn how to walk. She was alone in the hospital as her father was in the military and her mother had to take care of her four siblings.
Today she is a compassionate administrator as she remembers with gratitude the fact that there was blood at the hospital when she needed it, no matter how many units were used. Ruth was told because of her internal injuries, she would, probably, never bear children. But she had her first child at 19 and her second at 23. She said: “God has blessed me in so many ways throughout my years. I am so grateful.”
In her job, Ruth has seen the need for blood as well as experiencing that need herself. Regardless of how many units you may need during an emergency, that blood must be “on the shelf.” That is why we hold The Roundup, to draw all blood types so it will be on hand when needed.
Please thank Ruth for sharing her story by donating the gift of life — your blood — at the 15th Annual Okeechobee Blood Roundup on Nov. 21 and 22, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the Freshman Campus Auditorium. All blood donors will receive a commemorative Roundup T-shirt, a $10 gift card and a $5 Golden Corral certificate. Make an appointment on line at OneBlood.org.