March 4, 2009 - From MMH Blood Donor to Recipient: The Wally Yocum Story

(Marietta, OH, March 4, 2009) - For years, Wally Yocum carried a worn Red Cross card listing the dates he has donated blood. It helps tell a story. He used to donate every so often, when there was a blood drive at work or whenever it came to mind and was convenient.

However, after 9/11, Wally became an “every eight week” blood donor. “It was my way of contributing. I didn’t put anything in writing and I didn’t mention it to anyone but on that day, I made a private commitment to myself to make blood donation a priority, to do it even if it wasn’t convenient,” says Wally.

Overall Wally has donated more than four gallons of blood. Every time he looks at his card he can see that for several years he has been able to schedule it so one of his blood donations for the year landed right on September 11.

Then something unexpected happened. In April 2008, Wally went to donate at Marietta Memorial Hospital’s mobile blood unit as he always did and for the first time he was turned away because his hemoglobin was too low. Wally ended up visiting his doctor after additional symptoms surfaced and to his great surprise was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Wally had blood cancer and it had progressed to a point where chemotherapy was required. This of course meant that his days of donating blood were over.

His chemotherapy treatment started at the beginning of September and was going fairly smoothly until early October when Wally found out that he had an infection. “That’s when the tables turned. I needed a transfusion and fast,” says Wally. He received two pints of blood in October and when chemo had taken a further toll, Wally received another two-pint transfusion. “I never imagined, in all my years of giving blood, that I’d ever be on the receiving end,” says Wally. “But this experience opened my eyes to the importance of donating blood.”

“I’ve been both a donor and a recipient. The feeling of personal satisfaction I felt from donating was wonderful,” continues Wally. “However, there is absolutely no feeling in the world like knowing you’ll be able to get up and leave the hospital on your own two feet because someone else took the time to donate their blood.”

Wally further states his gratitude for those who helped him along the way, “I want to thank Dr. Cawley, the Strecker Cancer Center staff, the volunteers, the kitchen staff, my dear friends at the blood bank and those unnamed individuals whose blood I received, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

Blood donations can be made by making an appointment at Marietta Memorial Hospital’s Blood Bank by calling (740) 374-1432 or by visiting the blood mobile at one of our local blood drives. Dates and locations of the blood mobile sites are listed on Marietta Memorial’s web site at If you or your organization would like to sponsor a blood drive donate blood please call us at (740) 376-1998.

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