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Hope is in the bank

Promise - Summer 2012

Reliant Energy blood drives support patients

By Julie Penne

When she came to MD Anderson from Michigan for lifesaving surgery last fall, 25-year-old newlywed Katie Uren knew she had the heart ― and the multidisciplinary care team ― to make it through her complex surgery and recovery.

Christopher Newton, senior blood donor technician,
cares for Reliant/NRG employee Jeff Hocking, a 
regular blood donor.
Photo courtesy of Reliant Energy, an NRG Company

Uren came to MD Anderson and its Multidisciplinary Pelvic Sarcoma Program after a recurrence of Ewing’s sarcoma, originally diagnosed in 2008. With the tumor in a delicate location on her pelvis, Uren’s doctors in Wisconsin had been reluctant to perform the complex, lengthy surgery. Uren, a licensed practical nurse, understood that she would be under anesthesia for more than 20 hours. She knew that the complication rate was high and that recovery and rehabilitation would be difficult. Still, she had the confidence to press on with surgery.

“I had so much faith in my doctors at MD Anderson,” says Uren.

What she didn’t have was the requisite blood for the 23-hour operation that involved surgical teams specialized in urology, orthopedics and neurosurgery. The large quantity needed of Uren’s rare blood type almost derailed the operation.

That’s where Houston-based Reliant Energy, an NRG Company, entered as an unexpected and welcome member of her support team.  

Reliant learned of Uren’s surgery through a KRIV-TV, Fox Channel 26 report and was confident that employees would rally to donate the necessary blood, and then some.

Reliant collected a record 82 units during the drive, beating its previous high of 70 units following an appeal for donations to support a Reliant employee’s family member, also under treatment at MD Anderson.

Reliant/NRG has scheduled additional drives for the coming year to make sure the coffers stay stocked.

“A company can schedule blood drives, but it takes people to make them successful,” says Jason Few, NRG executive vice president and chief customer officer, Reliant president and a member of MD Anderson’s Board of Visitors.  “The people of NRG and Reliant always respond when there’s a need, and we’re honored to support MD Anderson patients.  I’m incredibly proud to work with people who have such passion and commitment.”

Today, Uren is back at home working as a patient advocate at the VA Hospital.

© 2015 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center