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Giving back the gift of life

CLUTCHING HIS SISTER'S bracelet in his right hand, and a squeeze ball in his left, junior Jacob Lucht, 16, Badger High School, gave his first pint of blood during a Red Cross blood drive at the school Nov. 21. Rachel Moosreiner, a registered nurse, inserted the needle and kept an eye on Jacob during the process.

November 27, 2012 | 04:32 PM
On Nov. 21, Jacob Lucht began to pay back his debt.

That debt isn't kept on any ledger or budget. No one is watching the books, and there's no collection agency keeping tabs.

But Jacob, 16, a junior at Badger High School, carries the debt in his heart.

He spent about 40 minutes filling out forms and answering questions about his health. And when the time came, he stretched out on a table in the Badger High School gym and gave a pint of his blood during the Red Cross blood drive there.

"I was so proud of him." Melissa Larson said of her son.

When Jacob was 4 years old, a serious accident involving a riding lawn mower left him with two dangerous cuts on his left leg.

During his recovery at Childrens Hospital, Milwaukee, he required 12 units, or pints, of blood.

Rachel Moosreiner, the Red Cross registered nurse, made it her job to watch over Jacob while he donated a unit of blood.

One pint of whole blood can save up to three lives, Moosreiner said.

In Jacob's left hand was the squeeze ball, because the blood was being drawn from his left arm.

In his right hand was a small, child-sized bead bracelet, because Jacob wasn't just giving for himself.

The bracelet belonged to his little sister, Sydnie.

Sydnie was a victim of childhood cancer. After bouts of chemotherapy, which left the little girl exhausted, she would receive whole blood which would revive her for a while, Melissa said.

Although Sydnie died at age 5, the time those blood transfusions bought was precious, Melissa said. "It gave us more laughs with her, more kisses and hugs," she said.

Jacob was in middle school when his little sister died in 2007.

Jacob said he decided to give earlier in the month, when the blood drive was announced at school during lunch hour.

"It's one of those things where you just do it," he said. "I think I'll do it every year," he added.

The gift of blood saved her son's life, she said.

"You don't get blood off a shelf," said Melissa, a respiratory therapist at Aurora West Allis Medical Center. "They can't make it in a laboratory."

The family now lives in Como, but when the accident happened, they were living in Dodge County near Lake Sinnissippi, Melissa said.

It was turtle hatching time in the spring. Jacob said he was fascinated by the little reptiles as they emerged from their eggs.

His dad, Jody, was using a riding mower to cut the grass on the family's rather large yard.

Jacob said his dad told him to leave the turtles alone.

But the turtles were too interesting for a 4-year-old to just leave them alone.

Jacob said he was on the ground, playing with some turtle hatchlings, when he felt the mower's tire roll onto his neck. Jacob said Jody was backing up and didn't realize his young son was lying in the grass just behind his mower.

The grass cutting blade sliced into Jacob's leg, making two, deep parallel cuts in the upper and lower leg.

Jacob said his horrified father picked up the mower and threw it off of him, scooped him up and carried him into the kitchen and tried to stop the bleeding from his ankle while his mother called the paramedics.

Flight for Life landed in the family's yard, picked up little Jacob and took him to Childrens Hospital in Milwaukee.

Doctors there couldn't let the leg heal until all of the dirt, grass and debris were out of the wounds. And during Jacob's week-long stay at the hospital, he needed 12 units of blood, plus platelets, which is the clotting factor in blood, Melissa said.

"There wasn't one person who saved that boy's life, it was a lot of people," Melissa said.

Each of those 12 units of blood young Jacob needed had to be drawn from a concerned donor, she said.


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