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Roseburg firefighter urges blood donations after seeing need firsthand

The Roseburg Fire Department held the second annual Firefighters Care Blood Drive on Tuesday at the Roseburg American Red Cross.

Posted: Sep 3, 2019 5:11 PM
Updated: Sep 3, 2019 9:35 PM

ROSEBURG, Ore. -- The Roseburg Fire Department is doing what it can to help a member of their crew give back.

The Roseburg Fire Department held the second annual Firefighters Care Blood Drive on Tuesday at the Roseburg American Red Cross.

The drive was organized on behalf of Assistant Fire Chief Merrill Gonterman, who almost lost his daughter to leukemia in February 2018.

During her diagnosis, Gonterman’s daughter was pregnant with his first grandson.

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While she was in the hospital, Gonterman’s daughter needed 40 blood transfusions to keep her alive. Luckily, his daughter beat cancer and had the baby shortly after she was discharged.

Seeing the impact blood donations had in helping save his daughter's life inspired Gonterman to give back, leading to the creation of the Firefighters Care Blood Drive.

“When the firefighters found out what was going on, they all came to me,” said Gonterman. “You know, how can we help, how can we help. Just sitting in the room with her, watching the amount of blood and blood products they were giving her to keep her alive, I said give blood.”

After organizing the blood drive in Roseburg, Gonterman reached out to the other fire departments in Oregon to help them organize their own blood drives.

Last year, Gonterman said they collected more than 19 gallons of blood between five other fire departments who participated.

The blood drive will continue through Wednesday and will be held from 10 to 4 p.m. at the American Red Cross on Garden Valley Boulevard.

For more information on blood drives, click here.

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