• Last modified 156 days ago (Feb. 7, 2024)


It's in the blood; Tragedy starts a 20-year tradition of donating

Staff writer

A blood drive Thursday marked 20 years of Marion school tradition rooted in tragedy.

Under the watchful eye of Key Club sponsor Kylie Schroeder, club members checked in 51 scheduled donors, ensured they were steady on their feet after donating blood, provided them snacks and drink boxes, and directed traffic at the blood drive.

Many members also donated blood.

The first time Key Club members staged a blood drive was to help a fellow student, according to Roger Schwab, Key Club sponsor at that time.

Club members felt a need to do something to help the student, who had been badly injured in a wreck.

The young lady who was the Key Club’s inspiration to start a blood drive at the high school in 2004 was Ashley Billbe.

Billbe; her mother, Brandi Billbe; and Lori Leeders were in a four-vehicle wreck May 10, 2004. The wreck was in a construction zone on US-50, in Harvey County near the Marion County line.

Brandi Billbe, a district employee at the time, and Leeders both received fatal injuries in the wreck. Ashley was so badly injured her road to recovery was long.

“While I can’t recall the exact number on pints of blood used in all the surgeries to repair her badly broken body, it was in excess of 48 pints, to be sure,” Schwab said.

Recovery has been a long process for Billbe.

According to a GoFundMe page she established in 2015, she faced continuing medical treatment and expenses from the injuries she suffered in the 2004 wreck.

“In 2004 alone, I had over 30 surgical procedures to repair the internal and external damage caused by the accident,” her fundraiser page says. “Since then I have continued to battle with the lasting effects of the accident, including:

  • Two hernia repair/mesh replacement procedures (2006, 2008).
  • Two surgeries to attempt to plug a fistula, as well as an additional surgery for fistula repair and bowel resection (2013).
  • Multiple surgeries for drain replacement (October 2014-present).
  • Extensive nerve damage in her left leg, which resulted in diagnosis of the medical condition commonly known as “foot drop” in which lifting the front of a foot to walk can be extremely difficult at times.
  • Shattered right arm, with multiple plates and screws put in to fix it and alleviate pain. The plates and screws later were removed because of complications.
  • Diabetes, caused by removal of three-fourths of my pancreas because of damages caused by the accident.
  • Use of a feeding tube to manage nutrition and keep her at a healthy weight.

A series of updates on the page, the most recent in February 2018, detail treatments and surgeries Billbe endured.

A LinkedIn profile shows Billbe living in Los Angeles County, California, and working for a software company.

The Record could not reach her0 directly, though messages were sent to her.

Last modified Feb. 7, 2024