Versiti - Melanie and Josie Pesta | Impact Stories

Melanie and Josie Pesta

“Everyone kept asking what we needed. We told them: Do something bigger than yourself,” said Melanie, “A lot of times, it was people giving blood.”

Melanie and Josie Pesta

Do Something Bigger Than Yourself

Lifetimes are measurements of a person’s presence on Earth, but the weight they carry – and the effect the person leaves behind – is what’s valued. People can live for decades and never have much to show for it. One little girl lived just 109 days…but left behind a legacy.

Josephine “Josie” Pesta was born May 26th, 2015. Her mother, Melanie Pesta, needed a blood transfusion after more than 22 hours of labor. What she soon realized was that her daughter needed much more than a pint of blood to keep going. Josie was born with Noonan Syndrome, a disorder that causes feeding issues and low platelets, a component of blood that promotes clotting. At birth, she should have had 200-thousand platelets; she only had 9-thousand.

Josie had five platelet and blood transfusions in her first month of life. In the two and a half months that followed, she’d need several more. That’s when Melanie and her husband, Brian, came up with a way for people to help.

“Everyone kept asking what we needed. We told them: Do something bigger than yourself,” said Melanie, “A lot of times, it was people giving blood.”

The #DoSomethingBiggerThanYourself project began in Josie’s first ten days. Friends and family took to posting photos of themselves donating blood, giving platelets, or running for charity on the ‘JosieStrong’ Facebook page.

Josie passed away on September 12th, 2015. After that, the project became a movement. Melanie and Brian continued telling their daughter’s story and began planning blood and platelet drives. For every unsure potential donor, they had a simple answer:

“My daughter had a needle poke every day of her life,” said Melanie, “That’s 109 pokes in 109 days. You can handle one.”

In 2016, the couple had a second daughter, Vivian. When Vivian was born, Melanie needed eight units of blood – a full gallon.  At this point, the couple had supported several blood drives and encouraged dozens of people to give. For them, it was a sign that Josie had an effect on the world. She didn’t weigh much, the weight of her impact inspired a movement that lives to this day.

“This is Josie’s story, and she’s the author,” wrote Melanie in 2015. Several years and Josie’s lifetime later, she still seems to be writing.

People need people, make a difference in someone’s life by donating blood.

We must rely on each other for the gift of blood, and patients in your community rely on the generosity of Versiti’s blood donors to help. Please consider scheduling an appointment to donate. If this is your first time, donating blood is quick, easy and relatively painless. And, it is a great way to give back and help patients in your community.


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Blood Donation FAQs
Read frequently asked questions involving donor eligibility, donation process, blood safety, platelet donation, plasma donation and more.
Platelet Donation
Volunteer to donate platelets at a blood and platelets donation center near you. Find out how to donate platelets and make an appointment to donate today.
Where to Donate Blood Near You
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