An American Red Cross blood drive will honor the mother of a five-month-old baby, who had to have 40 blood transfusions to fight a form of leukemia, while she was pregnant.

The Roseburg Firefighters Local and Fire District No. 2 Local came together to organize a blood drive on Sept 4-5, at the Roseburg Red Cross Blood Donation Center, in honor of 28-year-old Hannah Gonterman, who now lives in Bend. She went through the treatments at Oregon Health Sciences University Hospital in Portland during a two-month stay about six months ago.

At 26 weeks into the pregnancy, Hannah Gonterman found out she had a form of leukemia, and was taken to OHSU, where she got constant blood transfusions during the treatment period.

Her baby boy, Jennson, who is now almost five months old, was born early, at 34 weeks into the pregnancy, but there were no serious problems, and he is a healthy baby.

Because of the cancer treatments, Hannah had bleeding in her eyes and lost her vision. She couldn’t see her newborn son for the first week after he was born. The good news was that most of the sight has returned, and she was given a prognosis of 98 percent chance of no return of the disease, but she is still partially blind in the right eye.

Her father, Merrill Gonterman, a 35-year veteran firefighter, is a board member of the Southwest Oregon Chapter of the American Red Cross and helped put together the blood drive in an effort to give back, after his daughter benefitted greatly from the blood supply.

“Without those blood transfusions, I would have died,” Hannah Gonterman said.

“It was amazing, sitting in the room watching while she was going through all of this, it was literally several times a day, she was hooked up, at times with six IVs going, and usually there was blood or platelets, or some type of blood product,” Merrill Gonterman said. “When I went back to work, guys were asking what they could do, and I said, give blood.”

Hannah Gonterman, whose mother was born and raised in Sutherlin, and whose uncle is a Douglas County Fire District No. 2 firefighter, said blood donors can make a big difference with every donation, and she was lucky that there was enough of her blood-type available.

“I think it’s super important, even if you only give one bag of blood in your life, that’s a bag of blood that can save somebody’s life,” Hannah Gonterman said.

The blood drive is set for 11 a.m to 4 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 4 and Wednesday, Sept. 5, at the Red Cross Blood Donation Center at 1176 NW Garden Valley Blvd. in Roseburg.

To schedule an appointment, call 1-800-733-2767 or visit

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Dan Bain is the health reporter for The News-Review. He previously worked at KPIC and 541 Radio.

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