By Shellie Braeuner
I was five when my youngest brother was born. Everything seemed fine at first. But by the time he was six months old, it was obvious there was something seriously wrong. He got sick, and stayed sick. He would spike fevers of up to 105 degrees. He was in and out of the hospital for treatment and tests. The doctors knew there was something wrong with his immune system. But it was 1971, they didn’t know what was wrong much less how to treat it. All I remember about that time is that no one was allowed to touch the baby, and that Mom spent a lot of time taking pictures and filling up his baby book.
In 1972, our family moved and we got a new pediatrician. The new doctor had no more idea what was wrong with my brother than any other, but he guessed that it was an immature or incomplete immune system and he had an idea: He suggested that gamma-globulin, a blood product, would support his immune system.
Starting with three shots a week, the treatment continued for more than ten years. It literally took thousands of blood donors to support this treatment. But it worked.
Today, other than the occasional flu, Joe is a healthy father of four. And yes, he donates whole blood as often as he can. Both my older brother and I are Apheresis Donors. During Apheresis, platelets are removed while the rest of the blood is returned to the donor. My original goal was to donate 10 gallons. But now, after 82 donations, I’m working on 15.
So, next time you’re wondering if you have time to donate, think about my brother. The gifts of thousands of anonymous donors mean that Joe, and his four children, are here to make the world a better place.
Shellie Braeuner is the winner of the first Cheerios New Author Contest. Her picture book, The Great Dog Wash, was named one of the best children’s books of 2010 by Bank Street Books. Shellie Lives in Nashville and spends many happy hours with her nieces and nephews.
This guest post was contributed by the author to Writers for the Red Cross. Writers for the Red Cross is a month-long celebration that brings writers, readers, editors, literary agents and independent bookstores together to raise funds and awareness for the Red Cross during Red Cross Month.