Since her sister’s health took a drastic downturn this past February, Mountain Pointe High School teacher Donna Sampanes is organizing a blood drive at the school this weekend in an effort to help her sibling.

“It’s heartbreaking for the entire family, and we’re just doing everything we can,” said Sampanes, who teaches Spanish.

Sampanes’ sister, Marina, was diagnosed with blood cancer which, in February, converted to an aggressive, rare form of leukemia.

As blood transfusions are the only medical treatment sustaining her, Marina, who lives in Georgia, is in need of a complete blood transplant — and also a donor match.

A blood drive is scheduled for Saturday, May 11 from 8 a.m. to noon in Mountain Pointe’s front parking lot. A blood mobile from United Blood Services will be on site.

Sampanes said she currently has 43 people signed up to donate.

“I will be thrilled if I can get more people registered,” she said.

Also looking for participants to be placed on a bone marrow registry for Marina, Sampanes was able to get more than 60 students, staff and parents to get their cheeks swabbed last week to be placed on the possible donor registry through Be the Match.

As a former advisor for the school’s key club, Sampanes said some of her current and former students have helped her in making the blood drive happen.

“I’ve just had kids pop up in classes saying that they wanted to help,” she said. “It’s been an amazing community.”

Sampanes and her students are planning on participating in Be the Match’s run sometime in October to help raise money, and also will be planning another blood drive for the spring.

“You put out love and just hope to get that love back,” Sampanes said.

Mountain Pointe High School is located at 4201 E. Knox Road.

To register for a blood donation, email Sampanes at

• Contact writer: (480) 898-4903 or Follow her on Twitter @dmartinezAFN.

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