Blood drive honors 16-year-old that needed 50 blood transfusions

SAINT JOSEPH, Mich. - It was a day of giving back for a small Berrien County high school.

The Lake Michigan Catholic girls’ softball team organized a blood drive Monday in honor of their starting pitcher Emily Cutter.

“I don’t even know some of these people and they’re coming in,” said Cutter smiling. “They say ‘I heard your story and I’m doing this because of you.’”

Cutter, a shy 16-year-old sophomore at LMC, just returned home from a month’s stay in a Chicago hospital. She had a medical complication that doctors didn’t know anything about.

Cutter remembers the day before Easter when she was rushed to the hospital. “It was horrible, I couldn’t sleep couldn’t eat.” 

Cutter had rare complications with a liver transplant. She had severe internal bleeding and needed more than 50 blood transfusions while doctors tried to understand the condition. “If they didn’t know what was going on than I was scared,” said Cutter. “If they didn’t know what was going on obviously I wasn’t getting better.”

On Easter Sunday Cutter’s softball coach Joe Herzog got the call. “I sat (the team) down and told them the story,” Herzog said. “That we were going to be without Emily for the year.”

Herzog explained that Cutter needed 14 blood transfusions the first day in the hospital. “They all wanted to donate,” He said of the team’s reaction. “I had to explain to them that ‘you’re not the right blood type’ and that they didn’t weigh enough.”

One girl on the team suggested a drive to replace the blood Cutter used. When Herzog explained the goal to the Red Cross he said they had doubts. “They said ‘normally we get 25,’” Herzog said. “If we don’t get 50 I won’t be happy.”

Two weeks ago Cutter got an experimental surgery to fix the internal bleeding and complication with her liver. “Donate blood, it saves lives,” she said. “It saved mine.”

Monday’s blood drive received 55 units of blood.

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