Community gives blood for Moose member

Wayne Kline, of the Moose, and Lois Gassert, of Miller-Keystone, with a check during the Replacement Drive for Tammy Hamm on April 28.
Wayne Kline, of the Moose, and Lois Gassert, of Miller-Keystone, with a check during the Replacement Drive for Tammy Hamm on April 28.

Hamburg Moose and Miller-Keystone Blood Center hosted a Replacement Drive for Moose member Tammy Hamm on April 28.

With a full schedule and even more walk-ins, members and the community came out to donate a pint of blood for Tammy Hamm who is currently battling multiple myeloma cancer.

“This is phenomenal. It’s overwhelming,” said Hamm. “It shows how much friends and family mean to you at a time like this.”

Wayne Kline, Community Service Officer of the Hamburg Moose, contacted Lois Gassert of Miller-Keystone with the idea to host a blood drive in honor of Hamm. Gassert, having worked with Kline and other groups in the Hamburg area before, was all for the replacement drive.

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“Hamburg is the best community I have worked with,” said Gassert. She added that Moose Lodges of Pennsylvania have really rallied behind Hamm. “What Wayne did went above and beyond.”

As people registered for their appointments, or set one up, they filled out donation cards that will be given to Hamm and her family so she can see who came out to donate a pint of blood for her cause. This is a practice that Miller-Keystone enjoys doing.

“It’s been nonstop here which is great,” said Gassert on the line of people waiting to donate.

Hamm was determined to make it to the event after being released from the hospital on Tuesday and has remained in good spirits since she was diagnosed at the end of December. She was collecting donations for the American Cancer Society and Hershey Medical for research so a cure can be found for cancer. Over $4,000 were collected before the replacement drive began on Sunday.

Multiple myeloma is a cancer of the plasma cells, a type of white blood cell in bone marrow. Hamm went through chemotherapy and is now recovering from a stem cell transplantation. Blood drives help collect red blood cells, platelets, plasma and white blood cells.

Hamm was given two bags of platelets and four blood transfusions in the hospital so far. Gassert explained that cancer patients use a large amount of blood which is just one of my many reasons that blood and replacements drives are important.

The process of donating takes about 45 minutes including paperwork, screening, pumping blood and taking a few moments after the donation. One pint of blood can save up to three lives.

“It only takes about 45 minutes to be a hero,” said Gassert on the process.

The blood is then sent to a lab in Bethlehem where it is tested. Not all of the blood donated at the replacement drive will be used for Hamm as the blood must be typed and matched very closely to Hamm’s for it to be used. Miller-Keystone is the sole provider of the 25 hospitals around the area and the blood that is not matched to Hamm will be put into the blood bank.

Hamm goes back for a biopsy in 15 days and in 22 days goes back to the doctor to see if the stem cell transplantation was successful. She remains positive and mentioned that her husband, of 19 years in October, shaved his head when Hamm shaved hers as a result of chemotherapy.

The drive brought out many returning blood donors as well as a large amount of first time donors and walk-ins. All donors received a free ham and egg breakfast. The next even for Hamburg Moose is a block party on June 1.

About the Author

Shea Singley

Shea Singley is the editor of The Hamburg Area Item. She grew up in Berks County and spent three years at the University of Arizona, Tucson, where she double majored in Creative Writing and English before transferring to Kutztown University where she majored in Professional Writing. Shea graduated from Kutztown University in 2012 and during that time completed an internship in the publication department of a non-profit organization in Washington, DC. She joined Berks-Mont Newspapers in March of 2013 and had enjoyed getting the chance to explore the Hamburg area and meet the readers. Reach the author at ssingley@berksmontnews.com or follow Shea on Twitter: @hamburgitem.