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Blood drive Saturday will mark boy’s survival

Citizen Staff Writer



With an invitation of flowers and love, the Coleman family is inviting Tucsonans to celebrate the 13th anniversary of their son’s heart transplant by donating blood Saturday.

For the sixth year, the family, which owns Mayfield Florist, is offering a dozen roses to anyone who donates during the drive that benefits the American Red Cross.

Sean Coleman was diagnosed days after his birth with a heart defect that leads to the thickening of the heart walls and eventually limits the pumping action of the organ. His parents had lost his older brother, Patrick, to the disease four months before Sean was born.

He was placed on a transplant waiting list and, when he was 4 months old, on Nov. 29, 1995, he became the youngest heart transplant patient at University Medical Center.

“He’s a gift,” Don Coleman said Wednesday of his teenage son. “They really gave him about 12 days to live. Luckily, we got him for four months and now 13 years.”

Other than daily medications and yearly checkups, Sean is an active normal teenager who enjoys playing volleyball.

His father is convinced that without the right amount of blood available, his heart transplant wouldn’t have happened, which is why the family sponsors the yearly blood drive.

Coleman said they generally get 50-60 people who come out to the drive. He orders 60 dozen or more roses every year to hand out to participants.

The American Red Cross will set up a bus in the parking lot of Mayfield Florist, 7181 E. Tanque Verde Road, and will take blood donations from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Donors are advised that the wait is shorter and it is easier on the staff if people make an appointment before Saturday. To make an appointment, call the flower shop at 885-6987.

Coleman said he doesn’t know how many years he will do the annual blood drive.

“As long as they are successful,” said. “I’m not going to have it and not have people show up.

“It takes the Red Cross time and resources to put it on. As long as (people) are willing to donate blood, I’m willing to give them a dozen roses.”

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