Temple football hosts blood drive for staffer with cancer

Temple football hosted a blood drive through the American Red Cross at Edberg-Olson Hall to support assistant equipment manager Kane Ivers-Osthus, who suffers from Leukemia.

Graduate student offensive lineman Aaron Ruff prepares to donate blood on Monday at Edberg-Olsen Hall. | MICHAEL ZINGRONE / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Sarah Galbraith got emotional once she stepped into the Temple University football meeting room. Galbraith, a junior public health major, saw Temple players and coaches erupt in cheers for her and her boyfriend, Kane Ivers-Osthus.

On Monday at 8 a.m, before the Owls held practice, coach Geoff Collins stopped the team meeting to bring in a person to further explain the blood drive that would take place at Edberg-Olson Hall following Temple’s practice.

When Collins opened the doors, Galbraith brought Ivers-Osthus, the Owls’ assistant equipment manager who is in remission from leukemia, into the room.

“It was the best feeling in the world because Temple is our rock through all of this,” Galbraith said. “It was a coming home moment.”

“We know that we have a big army,” Galbraith added. “It’s been really great to see everyone come out and see Kane thank everyone individually for all the support he has gotten. The university has been unbelievably supportive.”

Monday was the first time Ivers-Osthus was at the Owls’ practice facility since being diagnosed with leukemia in early September. Ivers-Osthus stayed on the sideline during the entire practice and went to the blood drive before leaving to attend his first chemotherapy treatment.

He will attend Temple’s game against South Florida at Lincoln Financial Field on Saturday.

“I stopped for a second and saw all the guys hug [Ivers-Osthus] and put their arm around him,” coach Geoff Collins told OwlsTV on Monday. “What he has gone through the last three months …For him to be back in this building that he had been fighting so hard to get back to and [the team] just embracing him is a moment I will never forget.”

More than 120 Temple students, fans, employees, football players and coaches waited in line to donate a pint of blood for blood banks in the Delaware Valley region.

The idea to host a blood drive came when Ivers-Osthus was three days into a coma. Ivers-Osthus was on his 10th blood transfusion of the hour, Galbraith said, when the doctors at Temple University Hospital said they were running out of blood.

Ivers-Osthus received more than 70 blood transfusions, he told OwlsTV. Every patient is different, but 70 transfusions are “a lot”, said Alana Mauger, the communications manager for the American Red Cross Penn Jersey Blood Services Region.

Philadelphia is currently experiencing a shortage of blood supply at its hospitals. On average, hospitals in New Jersey, Delaware, and Pennsylvania east of Harrisburg only have roughly a three-day supply of blood, Mauger said.

In order to supply Ivers-Osthus and other patients with enough blood for transfusions, doctors called other hospitals in the region and in the Midwest.

Galbraith wanted to do the blood drive to help supply the region’s hospitals for patients who go through the same experiences Ivers-Osthus has.

Mauger said blood banks in the Penn-Jersey region are looking “to get blood from wherever we can.” The region holds roughly 20 blood drives every weekday. In order to keep up with the demands, Mauger said, those drives must produce 800 units of blood per day.

On Monday, the Temple football blood drive produced 180 units of blood.

“To see Temple football hold a blood drive that successful was truly amazing,” Mauger said. “The lack of blood donations in the past two months have caused a shortage for the blood banks in the region. … We are sending blood to hospitals faster than it is coming into the blood banks.”

Ivers-Osthus was released from Magee Rehabilitation Hospital Sunday after going through speech and walking therapy the past few weeks. He will need about nine months of chemotherapy treatment, Galbraith said.

The Owls love Ivers-Osthus “to death,” graduate student offensive lineman Aaron Ruff said, and are inspired by his battle against cancer.

“[Ivers-Osthus] is special,” said Collins, who has known Ivers-Osthus since they were both at the University of Florida. “He is such a selfless individual, he is such a humble individual. He always puts other people’s needs first. …I think it’s really special on the reverse side he gets to see how much he has impacted so many people and that people care so much about him.”

Players and coaches visited Ivers-Osthus in the hospital every day while he was in the hospital, Galbraith said. Though Ivers-Osthus has to stay in a hotel because he cannot walk up stairs yet, Galbraith said they have a “man cave” to keep all the mementos players and coaches sent him.

Every player and coach hand wrote a letter to Ivers-Osthus and he read every letter out loud as part of his speech therapy.

“I am not the only person who has [leukemia],” Ivers-Osthus told OwlsTV. “This will help more people than me. This is bigger than me, bigger than Temple, bigger than Philadelphia.”

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