2 minute readBlood

One Father’s Story: Your Blood Donations Gave My Son More Time

Written by Jim Taylor, platelet donor and father of a patient helped by the Red Cross 

Father donates platelets in honor of son
“When the Red Cross asks for help, what that means is a new dad is praying for a miracle.”

Emergency need

When the American Red Cross says there is a shortage, they are not exaggerating. I now know from experience they are saying, in part, that somewhere there is a father waiting on the donation that will save his son’s life.

Four years ago around this time of year, my newborn son, Aaron, was diagnosed with a very rare, severe liver condition called neonatal hemochromatosis. Aaron’s body was not able to get rid of bilirubin and there were elevated enzyme levels from the liver. He received daily transfusions of blood, platelets and plasma.

The only viable treatment for Aaron was a liver transplant. On January 12, Aaron got a second chance at life with a liver transplant. However, complications caused that liver to fail. A second transplant on January 27 was also unsuccessful, and Aaron passed away February 19, 2013.

The gift of time

Aaron received 115 individual blood products during his lifetime. Packed red cells and plasma were frequent, but because of his liver’s inability to function properly and the trauma of surgery on a 5-pound baby, platelets bought Aaron time every day of his life. One day his nurse was going over his numbers with us and her brow raised when she mentioned he would need platelets again soon. The hospital blood bank was empty, she recalled.

At that point, I decided to begin platelet donations again. My family began donating platelets and blood too. It was the only time I felt like I was gaining any ground in helping my son. It continues to be a catharsis even now.

Father hold's son Aaron's hand as he receives blood

When I donate, I feel a direct connection to Aaron, just like I felt a connection to the anonymous people whose gifts kept Aaron alive. For me, donation sessions are times of meditation. I think about Aaron. I wonder if he is proud of me and if he knows how much I love him. I think about my platelets and where they will go as soon as the donation is over. I like to think some of it will help a child like Aaron and I hope that child’s parents will worry a little less because of this small contribution.

I just finished up donating over 16 gallons of platelets since Aaron passed and hope to keep it up the rest of my life.

The need is real

Healthcare professionals cannot succeed without the right tools and supplies. Blood does not come from a fancy medical factory – it comes from generous donors. We must all do what we can to protect and save human life because one day we may find ourselves praying for a donor.

Schedule an appointment to donate by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting redcrossblood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

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  1. I am a huge supporter of the Red Cross. I have personally donated over 10 gallons, and it has taken decades. Is it possible to donate 16 gallons in 4 years? You can only donate one pint every four weeks. Just fact checking…..

  2. Hi Rusty, It’s so awesome to hear about all your blood donations. Thank you!! Please go ahead and reach out to our Donor Support Center to inquire about donation records: 1 866 236 3276.

  3. Red Cross blood saved my daughter’s life when she was born 2.5 months early and weighed just 3 lbs. The turnaround after her transfusion was miraculous. I’ll always be grateful.

  4. I was trying privately volunteer looking for someone to donate a blood anytime we had emergency in our place and helping sending posts to a friend for donations and red cross program.

  5. Hi Rusty, Sorry for the delay. I just saw your comment and that got me curious to do the math. You can actually donate every two weeks, which is pretty much what I have been doing for the last four years. I don’t know how much volume of fluid is generally taken, but I usually yield a “triple” unit each session. It looks like more fluid than a pint of blood. But not by much. That would come out to about 12 gallons in four years, so you may be right and the other four were from some of the years before. Kinda surprised me too. They give you a nice little pin too.

  6. Question: Does the Red Cross ever share with the donor, info on a particular individual whose life was saved by that particular donation?

  7. Doug,
    I don’t think the Red Cross could share that information regarding the individual who received. Like the hospitals that used the blood product, the Red Cross is bound by HIPAA guidelines. In my area they do send a nice little e-mail a week or so later explaining which hospital your blood went to. I always like that, especially when I find out it went to a children’s facility!