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Timonium nonprofit to hold blood drive May 15 in memory of Hunt Valley girl who died

As the American Red Cross faces a massive shortage in blood donations during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the Lutherville-Timonium-based Kendall Burrows Foundation is looking for healthy blood donors on May 15 to help give to patients who need transfusions.

Kendall Burrows, a Hunt Valley girl diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disorder, was once one of those patients. She needed between 40 and 60 units of donor blood in her last month at Johns Hopkins Hospital’s pediatric intensive care unit, where she died in 1996 at age 9.

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The foundation was started by her parents in 1996 to organize blood drives and fund research for a cure for Evan’s syndrome, the disease that caused Kendall’s blood to produce antibodies that acted as enemies of her own red blood cells and clotting agents.

“It’s important to us that we can continue to do this drive because there is a shortage of blood supply,” said Ryan Burrows, Kendall’s brother and president of the foundation named in his sister’s memory. “The Red Cross really does need donors to come out.”

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More than 15,000 Red Cross blood drives have been canceled across the U.S. as of April 7, resulting in 450,000 fewer blood donations, according to the Red Cross.

The Kendall Burrows Foundation’s blood drive will be held on Friday, May 15, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the Johnson, Mirmiran & Thompson Inc. building at 40 Wight Ave., Hunt Valley, MD 21030.

The Kendall Foundation typically holds at least two blood drives a year in April and October at Dulaney High School, where the Burrows children attended school, and where Kendall would have been a student.

Because of statewide school closures brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, the family is holding it at the engineering firm’s headquarters.

Those who wish to donate are asked to make an appointment online by going to https://www.redcrossblood.org/give.html/donation-time and entering the sponsor code “KendallBurrowsIMO” into the left-hand field or by calling 1-800-RED-CROSS.

As an extra precaution, a pre-screening area will be set up outside to assess donors and check their temperature before they enter the preregistration area.

Donors are also asked to wear masks while Red Cross nurses take precautions to adhere to guidelines set out by the Centers for Disease Control.

The Red Cross is considered an essential service during the coronavirus pandemic.

“You can still go out and give blood. We’re worried about potential blood shortages in the future,” U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams said on NBC in mid-March. “Social distancing does not have to mean social disengagement.”

Kendall was described by her father and brother as energetic, strong and “the peacemaker” among her friends at Pot Spring Elementary School, which she attended. She loved dancing, often to “Grease” or Disney movies in her parents’ basement, and enjoyed riding go-karts around the yard.

“You couldn’t tell half the time that she was going through the issues she was going through,” Ryan said.

“She touched more lives in her 9 years than most people will ever touch in their lifetime,” said Dave Burrows, Kendall’s father and a co-founder of the Kendall Burrows Foundation.

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Kendall died one day before a blood drive organized by her family that became one of the largest single-donor Red Cross blood drives, supplying the national nonprofit with at least 200 units of blood, estimates Dave Burrows.

Kendall’s and Ryan’s mom, Deb Burrows, who also lived with Evan’s syndrome, co-founded the foundation with Dave. She died last year due to complications from cancer.

The foundation later pivoted to raising money to support palliative care at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, and has given $305,000 in the past six years, Ryan Burrows said.

Because of the robust stocks of donated blood, “our family never had to worry about the blood supply,” he said.

“We’re just asking for everybody to please show up and donate because of the great need right now,” Dave Burrows said. The foundation is hoping to collect between 50 and 70 units of blood for the Red Cross on May 15.

Those who can’t donate blood can still support the foundation’s other programs, including supporting the palliative care unit at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, supplying scholarships to Dulaney High students who donate blood, funding grants for autoimmune disease research and helping to fund the library at the Children’s Center.

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