McCrabb: She lost her baby brother 15 years ago. His memory drives this teen’s inspiring efforts.

One was 3 ½ months old when he died.

The other, his older sister, is 16 now.

Don’t let their ages fool you.

While Logan Phillips was lost too young, he continues to impact his family, including his sister, Lainey, who is mature beyond her years.

Last week, Lainey, a junior at Edgewood High School, co-sponsored Atrium Medical Center’s monthly community blood drive. She and her parents, Larry and Cindy, gave blood in memory of Logan, who died nearly 15 years ago from a rare cancer-like disorder.

Lainey said her brother received numerous life-saving blood transfusions during his hospital stays, and the blood drive was one way to pay back those donors.

“He impacted my life so much even though I barely remember him,” she said.

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When Lainey was 2, her baby brother was born, and after seven weeks, he was admitted to Dayton Children’s Hospital where he began his battle against hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH), a condition in which the body makes too many activated immune cells. He was hospitalized for 17 days, including 14 in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. He eventually began his weekly chemotherapy treatments.

On July 27, 2004, two days before the family met with the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital medical team to plan a bone marrow transplant, Logan had a massive heart attack and died.

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This “Logan Project” poster was on display when Lainey Phillips, 16, a junior at Edgewood High School, co-sponsored a monthly community blood drive last week at Atrium Medical Center. RICK McCRABB/STAFF

This “Logan Project” poster was on display when Lainey Phillips, 16, a junior at Edgewood High School, co-sponsored a monthly community blood drive last week at Atrium Medical Center. RICK McCRABB/STAFF

Combined ShapeCaption
This “Logan Project” poster was on display when Lainey Phillips, 16, a junior at Edgewood High School, co-sponsored a monthly community blood drive last week at Atrium Medical Center. RICK McCRABB/STAFF

His mother remembers that drive home from the hospital, the family forever incomplete.

“We were passing cars and they had no idea our world was destroyed,” she said while giving blood. “Our world stopped. It’s still hard 15 years later.”

Logan’s death and his memory have been the driving forces behind the Phillips family. For 10 years, Cindy Phillips has served as a paramedic with the Wayne Twp. Life Squad, and Lainey plans to enter the medical field in hopes of treating children like her brother.

“He has shaped our lives in so many ways,” his mother said.

Last summer, Lainey attended the Washington Leadership Conference though her Edgewood/Butler Tech Future Farmers America group. While there, students were encouraged to create a community service project.

The Logan Project was born.

“I wanted to help children just like him,” said Lainey, who also earned her lifeguard certification to protect children.

Logan would have turned 15 last week. That’s a lot of birthdays that weren’t celebrated.

“It was pretty hard because you wonder what he’d be like today,” Lainey said. “You miss him even though he was with us for just three months.”

Lainey also has another brother, Wyatt, 13, an eighth-grader at Edgewood Middle School.

MORE: ‘We’re adrenaline junkies’: For one day, this father-son pair worked on the same Middletown medic unit

Combined ShapeCaption
Lainey Phillips, 16, a junior at Edgewood High School, co-sponsored a community blood drive last week at Atrium Medical Center. Lainey and her parents, Larry and Cindy, gave blood in honor of Logan Phillips, who died nearly 15 years ago from hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH), a condition in which the body makes too many activated immune cells. RICK McCRABB/STAFF

Lainey Phillips, 16, a junior at Edgewood High School, co-sponsored a community blood drive last week at Atrium Medical Center. Lainey and her parents, Larry and Cindy, gave blood in honor of Logan Phillips, who died nearly 15 years ago from hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH), a condition in which the body makes too many activated immune cells. RICK McCRABB/STAFF

Combined ShapeCaption
Lainey Phillips, 16, a junior at Edgewood High School, co-sponsored a community blood drive last week at Atrium Medical Center. Lainey and her parents, Larry and Cindy, gave blood in honor of Logan Phillips, who died nearly 15 years ago from hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH), a condition in which the body makes too many activated immune cells. RICK McCRABB/STAFF

Besides encouraging blood donations, Lainey is spearheading a “Be The Match” bone marrow donor program and a gift card drive that will provide financial assistance to the young hospital patients and their families.

Cindy Phillips remembered sitting with the pastor who was going to perform her son’s funeral services. She was numb, still trying to process what had happened. She hoped there was “a bigger reason,” one invisible at the time, for her son’s death.

She’s starting to think it may have been to set Lainey on her career path.

“A great kid,” Larry said of his daughter.

“She’s an amazing girl,” her mother said. “She has a heart of gold.”

And blood even more valuable.


HOW TO DONATE BLOOD

Donors are required to provide a photo ID that includes their full name.

Past CBC donors are also asked to bring their CBC donor ID card.

Donors must be at least 17 years of age (16 years old with parental consent: form available at www.givingblood.org or at CBC branch and blood drive locations), weigh a minimum of 110 pounds (you may have to weigh more, depending on your height), and be in good physical health.

Make an appointment at www.DonorTime.com or call 1-800-388-GIVE.

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