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Friday, February 23, 2024 — Houston, TX

REMS hosts blood drive in honor of H&D staff member’s son

Francesca Nemati / Thresher

By Maria Morkas     1/31/23 11:22pm

Rice Emergency Medical Services hosted an on-campus blood drive on Jan. 30 and 31 to honor Housing and Dining staff member Noel Romero’s son, Leonel Romero, who was diagnosed with leukemia in Aug. 2022. 

REMS Community Relations Lieutenant Jay Mehta said that when REMS hosted their annual blood drive last semester, they were unaware that there were individuals within the Rice community who needed blood frequently because of their medical conditions.

“When we found out that there were people like that in the Rice community, the need for blood became a little bit closer in proximity,” Mehta, a Brown College senior, said. “And REMS’ mission for a really long time has been to serve the Rice community in different ways … so [the blood drive] felt like something that fit our mission, and so it felt right to do it.”

REMS Director Lisa Basgall said she was in awe of Leonel and Noel’s courage in sharing a part of their lives with the Rice community.

“For us in the Rice community, I think it really is a chance to step up and, in the most tangible way, do something that can save the life and honor this young man and also all the other people in Houston who need blood donations,” Basgall said.

Mehta said that he was stunned by the quick response to the blood drive.

“I had no doubt in my mind that people within the Rice community were great,” Mehta said. “But seeing 255 people [sign] up to donate blood in 24 hours or less — that was truly incredible. The Rice community responded so fast to this issue that was close to us that there were no appointments left [on Monday].”

Because of the overwhelming response, Basgall said REMS worked with the blood drive teams to increase the number of appointments available on Monday and add a second donation day.

“That’s just incredible,” Basgall said. “That’s the kind of community I want to be part of, where people will really step up to help each other out in times like this.” 

Noel Romero said that he was in disbelief when he heard about this initiative REMS was organizing for his son. 

“Ever since we were notified that my son had leukemia, everything just turned gray for our whole family. In other words, we couldn’t smile,” Noel Romero said. “So what’s going on today with the Rice community, they put a smile on our faces, not just my face, but my whole family and my son.”

Milan George, a REMS volunteer who helped staff the event, said that when he first heard about the blood drive, he thought it was a great opportunity to help a community member. 

“This blood drive is dedicated to an H&D member’s family, and that just shows how Rice serves Rice and that we’re always here for each other,” George, a Duncan College sophomore, said. “And that’s why I wanted to volunteer — I wanted to put [in] my time when I was free and help out.”

Alicia Garza, a Duncan freshman, said she thinks that anyone who is able to donate blood should consider it to help those in need.

“I think it’s a good initiative. It’s great that Rice is supporting their students, faculty and staff. It [shines] light on the fact that Rice is very good at taking care of the people who attend and work here,” Garza said.

Leonel Romero said he didn’t expect Rice to host a blood drive and donate their blood for his sake and others who need blood.

“[To the Rice community], thank you. It really means a lot to me that there are people out there that care and are willing to give [blood] for my own happiness, to help my parents throughout this and also for the sake of helping others in my situation. It just makes me feel like I’m not alone,” Leonel Romero said.

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