Science majors come together for one of their own

Photo courtesy of Saranah Isenberg

Photo courtesy of Saranah Isenberg

Jacob Jardel
Assistant Managing Editor

With the holidays around the corner, one group of students looks to give back to one of their own.

Cameron Biology Club, Tri Beta and the Health Professions Society are teaming up with Oklahoma Blood Institute (OBI) for a blood drive, alongside the ROTC blood drive, from 9 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. on Nov. 24 in Room 209 of Burch Hall.

The Biology drive will benefit Kyri, the son of pre-nursing major Valentina Gritcin.

Kyri was recently diagnosed with stage IV liver cancer. Though his prognosis is hopeful, he will continue to need regular blood transfusions throughout the foreseeable future.

It was this impetus that brought junior biology major Saranah Isenberg to seek OBI’s help. Isenberg said Gritcin was one of her first friends at Cameron, so the news of Kyri’s condition hit close to home.

“It made me realize that everyone in my life that I care about, I could lose at any point in time,” Isenberg said. “I really decided to change my focus. Instead of putting my heartache and stress into schoolwork, I’ve decided to put that into the people I care about.

“I was just searching for a way I could help her because there was nothing I could do for her,” she said. “It’s the only thing I could think of that would do them any good whatsoever.”

Isenberg ran point for the Cameron organizations to collaborate for this event with OBI, who will provide volunteers for the drive. Isenberg expressed her gratitude for OBI’s cooperation.

“They’ve been incredible,” she said. “They’ve been so helpful. They’ve just really bent over backwards to try and get this done.”

At deadline, only 13 reserved slots remained open to donate in Kyri’s name. Although Isenberg would appreciate donations on the day of the drive, she urged potential donors to sign up beforehand.

“They [OBI] didn’t really have the staff to cover it,” she said, “so if people randomly start showing up, they wouldn’t have the staff to handle it.”

However, Isenberg also mentioned that the groups would coordinate trips to OBI for those who want to donate but were unable to on the day of the drive.

As a whole, she feels optimistic about the upcoming experience – both for Kyri and for the blood supply in general.

“It’s just going to be really awesome,” Isenberg said. “It’s nice to know that, regardless of whether or not they’re donating in Kyri’s name, we’re getting it out there and getting people to donate and increasing the blood supply.

“I don’t think people realize how limited the blood supply is and how much OBI needs blood right now – all the time, really,” she said.

Isenberg added that her awareness of the shortage in the blood supply, as well as her background in cell and molecular biology, have helped her feel more prepared to help Gritcin and her son.

“It doesn’t change the emotion of the situation,” Isenberg said, “but I feel like, knowing as much as I do about how blood works, makes me feel like I have more confidence in his medical care and what they’re going to be doing for him.

“It makes me think of things, like do a blood drive in Kyri’s name or realize how this all works, and it makes me feel less helpless,” she said.

Throughout this process, though, Isenberg emphasized that the club has kept Kryi and his mom at the forefront of their thoughts.

“I just want Valentina to know that we haven’t forgotten about her and that we love and care about her,” Isenberg said. “We want to do something to help her and her family while she’s going through this.”

For more information on the blood drive and how to help Kyri, contact Saranah Isenberg via email at




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