If you haven’t seen LaWayne Brown in the H-E-B Grocery Store produce section lately, it’s because he’s been in the hospital instead of at work.
Brown, 58, a nine-year H-E-B employee, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia and hospitalized in Fort Worth on Feb. 5.
“He just felt like he had the flu,” said his wife, Mary Ann Brown. “He just started feeling worse and worse.
“They’re going to have a bone marrow transplant. This is something that comes on you very quick.”
It’s the kind of diagnosis that can make people feel helpless. But from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday, friends, family and the public can help, by donating blood in Brown’s honor at the Cleburne H-E-B. There will also be an opportunity for the public to participate in the bone marrow swab from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to find potential donors.
“We always need blood,” said Linda Goelzer, Carter BloodCare public relations director. “It’s helping replenish a supply that a patient they know is getting.”
In Brown’s case, the need for platelets is serious. Low platelet levels make it hard to stop bleeding, and once they’ve been extracted, platelets only have a five-day shelf life, Goelzer said.
“His platelet level got down very low,” Mary Ann Brown said. “We’re actually on platelets right now.”
At any given time, about 38 percent of the public is eligible to donate whole blood, Goelzer said.
Yet, of that number, only about five percent of the population gives blood, she said.
But Mary Ann Brown said after years in the grocery business in the area, she expects a big turnout for her husband on Thursday.
“We’re going to help him,” said Destanie Maloney, central checkout manager at the HEB, “just like you would any family member.”
Where: HEB parking lot, 600 W. Henderson, Cleburne
When: Thursday, March 14
Blood donation: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Bone marrow swab: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Persons with this type of cancer have abnormal cells inside their bone marrow. The cells grow very quickly, and replace healthy blood cells. The bone marrow, which helps the body fight infections, eventually stops working correctly. Persons with AML are more likely to have infections and have an increased risk for bleeding as the numbers of healthy blood cells decrease.