For someone who lived just 109 days, Josephine Kary Pesta has had a large impact on the world.
Josie was born May 26, 2015 with serious medical problems that came as a complete surprise to her parents, Melanie Pesta and Brian Pierce. A malrotation of the bowel and Noonan Syndrome, a condition that causes developmental delays and other physical problems, required Josie to undergo several emergency surgeries. She died at home on September 12.
Though devastated by the loss, Pesta took to heart a suggestion made at Josie’s funeral about doing something in her daughter’s memory. She worked with the American Red Cross to organize a blood drive barely two months later. More than 60 people showed up, so many that some donors were turned away.
“I was still very raw and had a hard time talking about her,” Pesta recalled. “One of my friends would tell Josie’s story to all of the strangers who came to donate.”
The drive collected 45 pints, and Pesta has set up a second opportunity for people to donate in Josie’s name, on April 18 from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Radisson Hotel Detroit-Farmington Hills. While she realizes that the urgency people might have felt last year has faded a bit, the need for blood never does.
“We’re very fortunate somebody donated so we had that time with her,” Pesta said. “You never know who’s going to need blood next. I never would have expected what happened to Josie would happen. We had no idea she was sick.”
In addition to the local blood drive, Pesta’s sister runs a drive in Tennessee. In just under a year, there have also been toy drives and book collections in Josie’s name.
“My goal is I want people to remember my daughter, the way they remember everybody else’s children,” Pesta said.
To sign up for the blood drive, visit redcrossblood.org and search for the sponsor code josiestrong. The hotel is located at 31525 W. 12 Mile Rd., Farmington Hills. You can also become one of Josie’s Heroes by donating platelets at any Red Cross donation center, any time this year. If you donate platelets six or more times, you’ll be invited to a special dinner held in January or February of 2017.