Weekly Feature



2017-12-21 / Local News

Blood drive to be held in memory of LVAC, Mercy Flight member

by AMY ROBB
Lancaster/Depew Editor

For the second year, Mercy Flight is teaming up with Unyts for its Holiday Hero Blood Drive, with one of many drives taking place from noon to 4 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 26, at Mercy Flight’s training room, 100 Amherst Villa Road in Cheektowaga.

This year’s blood drive will be held in memory of Kevin Przybyl, a former Mercy Flight emergency medical technician for ground transportation, as well as a member of the Lancaster Volunteer Ambulance Corps and Bowmansville Volunteer Fire Association. Dec. 26 is Przybyl’s birthday.

Przybyl died in February of cystic fibrosis, a systemic disorder that affects the lungs and immune system with which he was diagnosed at birth.

“For the projected life span of someone diagnosed at that age, his parents were told he’d never graduate high school, he wouldn’t get married, have kids,” said Donald Trzepacz Jr., director of air medical operations for Mercy Flight who was also a close friend of Przybyl’s.

“Kevin, from birth, was a fighter. He always fought and did a remarkable job of doing so.”

Przybyl grew up in West Seneca, and helping others as a first responder was something he saw from a very young age, with his father serving as fire chief of the Union Fire Company, and later as commissioner for the Union Fire Department.

“Kevin’s lifelong dream was to be a firefighter and a paramedic. Subsequently, he went on to do that. He became one of the youngest to join the Explorer Post at the age of 14, Lancaster Volunteer Ambulance Explorer Post,” said Trzepacz.

“Shortly thereafter, he received his certified first responder EMT card, and he became one of the youngest certified paramedics in the State of New York.”

Przybyl served as a full-time paramedic for Twin City Ambulance and the Tonawandas, and later as a member and paramedic for LVAC, where he met his wife, Michelle.

Their son, Casey, is now 8 years old and has much of Kevin’s spirit, Michelle Przybyl said.

“He has his mannerisms, his sayings, his faces, his walk, sometimes. He definitely has a lot of Kevin in him. He’s always overly concerned about everybody,” she said.

“If somebody in the family gets sick, he gets all concerned. My sister-in-law, she had twins this May and was obviously in the hospital, and he was all concerned about it, making sure she was OK.”

A seemingly endless supply of empathy and a willingness to lend an ear accompanied Kevin Przybyl’s need to help others, best personified in his actions while on the job or volunteering.

“Kevin touched a lot of people. I was personally taking a patient for a double lung transplant from the western side of New York State, down to New York City. She was a young lady in her early 20s, and she was very, very sick, but she was very, very scared. She was a young mother as well,” said Trzepacz.

“During our drive from the airport to the hospital, I called Kevin. He talked to her on the phone the entire way to the hospital and followed up with her the next day. She had a lung transplant that night. He followed up with her and continued to be a mentor, resource for her, until he died.”

For Michelle Przybyl and Trzepacz, having the blood drive in Przybyl’s name is a good way to keep busy during a difficult time, the first Christmas without him; it’s also the best way to honor the memory of a man who spent his life giving back to others.

“He definitely was a big supporter of Unyts and Donate Life, so it’s nice that we’re going to have a blood drive in his name. I’m honored on his behalf, that’s for sure,” said his wife.

Visit www.unyts.org/holiday heroes to learn more about blood drives happening throughout Western New York.

The Holiday Heroes campaign runs until Jan. 19.

email: arobb@beenews.com

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