Poster for the blood drive clinic being held on February 24 for CKPS Traffic Officer Constable Andrew Gaiswinkler. (Photo taken from event calendar)

Community Rallies Together To Support Police Officer With Leukemia

A blood drive clinic is being held this month in support of a Chatham-Kent police officer who was diagnosed with a serious illness.

Chatham-Kent Police Service Constable Jason Herder says his colleague Andrew Gaiswinkler was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in November.

“At this point, he’s already had a couple bouts of chemotherapy and he’s awaiting a stem cell transplant,” explains Herder.

Herder says Gaiswinkler is a constable in the traffic unit with him.

“There’s seven us in the unit and we were all very taken back having to spread that news. Everyone is just trying to rally together and just put thoughts and prayers with him and his family,” says Herder.

Herder says there are a couple of different things people can do to help, including a Canadian Blood Services blood drive clinic from 9am until 12pm at the St. Clair College HealthPlex on February 24. He says Gaiswinkler still needs blood transfusions and must find a matching stem cell donor.

“People can help just by giving blood in general at the clinic, we’re also going to be handing out some information pamphlets regarding one match and stem cell donations. You can also get information right from the Canadian Blood Services website,” says Herder.

Herder says stem cell donation is a separate process than just donating blood. He says it only takes about ten minutes to get registered as long as you meet all the eligibility criteria.

He adds that when it comes to blood and stem cells, you may not be a match for Gaiswinkler but you could be a match for another person who is going through the same disease.

“When you start dealing with any sort of serious illness where someone is battling for their life, you see a community come together. It wouldn’t be just for Andrew. It could be for anyone. This illness, unfortunately, has no boundaries, it can affect anybody at any time,” says Herder. “It’s always nice to just get everyone to kind of rally together.”

According to Herder, Gaiswinkler would often go to the blood clinics in Chatham and says he has already received more blood than he would ever be able to give. Herder says the most important thing is just going out and donating.

It is reported that a stem cell donor clinic will be held in April for Gaiswinkler if a potential match is not found by then.