An annual blood drive will be held Nov. 4 at Sherrard High School in honor of a 16-year-old girl killed in a car accident and was an organ donor.

The American Red Cross invites you to donate blood in memory of Sara Wyant on Friday, Nov. 4 from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Sherrard High School’s Meeting Room, 4701 176th St., Sherrard. Sara was killed in a car crash as a sophomore at the age of 16, and since then, her family has hosted a blood drive to honor her memory, and to increase awareness of blood and organ donation.

Sara died on Oct. 31, 2003, four days after her car was struck by a school bus in front of her Sherrard home as she was on her way to school.

It was almost exactly 19 years ago, when Sara left for school on Oct. 27, 2003, driving alone out of her driveway and apparently didn’t see an oncoming school bus that struck her car on the driver’s side, her mother Tracy Wyant said Friday.

Sara suffered severe head trauma and she was taken to Trinity West in Rock Island.

She had brain swelling and they put in a shunt to help drain the fluid, Tracy said. They decided her injuries were too severe for their medical team and airlifted her later that day to Iowa City, Tracy said.

Sara never regained consciousness and died on Oct. 31, 2003. Her older brother Casey was home at the time of the accident, and her parents were both at work.

Sara, center, with her older brother Casey and best friend Zach.

“It’s been difficult. He went through all the normal anger and all that stuff and he tried to be strong for us,” Tracy said, noting he was 19 at the time, and today is 38 and principal of the Sherrard Elementary School. 

The Wyants have held the high school blood drive every year since Sara’s death.

“While we were at the hospital and I was sitting with her, the blood drive was actually going on at that time,” Tracy recalled. “When we would relay back to the school what was happening and the prognosis and that kind of stuff, when we told them that she had wanted to be an organ donor, then the kids decided at the school that they wanted to name the blood drive in her honor.”

“We keep it going and we’re very active in it,” she added. “Our family, my husband and I, we all go up there and spend the whole day up there and bake cookies and share memories and have a good time.”

Sara loved riding her horse Beauty.

It was the summer after she turned 16 that Sara told her parents that she wanted to be an organ donor.

“That was a strange thing for a 16-year-old to do, but I said, ‘Okay, good for you, go tell your dad because you’re supposed to let us know’,” Tracy said.

After that, her entire family became organ donors, as did many of Sara’s friends, and other Sherrard students over the years.

“So when we go to the blood drive, we talk to people about donating blood and how important that is. And then we also share that it’s important to talk to your family about what your wishes are and what their wishes are,” Tracy said, noting she also talks to students in Tammy Crippen’s class about organ donation.

Sara Wyant riding her horse Beauty.

Sara had developed pneumonia in the hospital, so they couldn’t use her lungs or heart, but she was able to donate her kidneys, pancreas and her liver, her mom said.

The family has a wonderful relationship with one of the recipients (Tracy Booth), a former diabetic from Oskaloosa, Iowa, who received the pancreas and one kidney.

“She had been diabetic since she was 10 and on insulin and she had been on dialysis for three years,” Tracy Wyant said. “Once she received the pancreas and kidney, she was no longer diabetic. We’ve gotten together with her several times and it’s wonderful to talk to her and hear the appreciation that she has.”

Sara died at 16 on Oct. 31, 2003 and she was an organ donor.

There are 105,800 Americans on a waiting list for an organ transplant, including 90,483 waiting for a kidney, according to organdonor.gov. Seventeen people die each day waiting for an organ transplant.

“It is wonderful, having partners like Tracy, who want to help by hosting a blood drive – in this case, in her daughter’s memory,” Red Cross spokesman Brian Williamsen said Friday.

“Blood drives can be hosted for a number of reasons – in memory of someone, in honor of someone, to spread the word about the importance of giving blood, and so forth. We’re thankful for people like Tracy who choose to support the Red Cross by hosting blood drives.”

For more information on blood donation, visit redcrossblood.org, use the Red Cross Blood Donor App or call 800-RED-CROSS to make an appointment. As a thank-you for taking the time to give, all who come to give blood at this drive will receive a $10 e-gift card by email to a merchant of choice.