Every day, volunteer blood and platelet donors across the country are needed to help save lives. Eligible individuals can feel good knowing that by donating through the Red Cross, they may be helping patients not only in their community, but across the country. Patients like Vikas Mahajan, who needed blood transfusions during two major heart surgeries. Read on to learn how blood donations helped change his life and why he encourages others to donate blood.
A Childhood Illness
When Vikas was a child, he was diagnosed with a disease called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a condition in which the heart muscle thickens so much that it becomes difficult to pump blood throughout the body. Unlike other children, he wasn’t able to run and play. While walking he often had to stop and catch his breath. As he grew older, his condition evolved into congestive heart failure, which became so severe over time that a heart transplant was his only solution. Unfortunately, when he needed a new heart, there weren’t any available, so he received a left ventricular assist device (LVAD) heart pump in the interim.
Complications during Surgery
During his heart pump operation in 2014, Vikas started bleeding excessively and doctors determined that he needed platelets to stop the bleeding. Platelets are tiny cells in your blood that form clots and stop bleeding. For millions of Americans, they are essential to surviving and fighting cancer, chronic diseases, and traumatic injuries.
“It made me aware of how important blood and platelet donations are during surgeries. Without the platelets I received, I might not have made it through that operation. That’s why it’s so critical for people to understand how blood products are used to save lives,” said Vikas.
The LVAD allowed Vikas to do more than he was able to do in the past. It allowed him to go back to work, and in 2015 he accepted a position with the American Red Cross as the senior director of Information Security Operations.
“The heart pump did a wonderful job. It certainly gave me my life back,” said Vikas. “I was able to go back to work. I could walk without getting short of breath, but still, I could never be separated from my heart pump. There were a lot of restrictions with it. So as wonderful as it was, I was looking forward to living a more complete and normal life with a new heart.”
A New Life
In July 2018, Vikas was notified that a new heart had become available. That month he received a heart transplant and required blood products again during surgery. Now at seven months post-transplant, he is able to do all of the active things he used to dream about.
“I’m able to do things now that I was never able to before because I didn’t have a heart that was strong enough. Now I can run, play, swim and enjoy the outdoors with my kids. I’m very excited about the new chance at life I’ve been given all thanks to organ and blood donations,” said Vikas.
Give Now and Give Often
Today, Vikas encourages everyone who is eligible to give blood to help save lives.
“Blood donations are critical to help save the lives of people you see every day. Whether it be friends, family members, or colleagues at work, they all will get touched by these donations in some way. My goal is to continue to educate and inform people about how donating blood can help change people’s lives for the better,” said Vikas.