After serving people in need every day as a firefighter for 35 years, I wasn’t accustomed to receiving help. So, I couldn’t be more grateful to the blood donors that selflessly gave their time to ensure blood was available for my daughter Hannah, when she was diagnosed with leukemia at 24 weeks pregnant.
Hannah had gone to the doctor with cold symptoms and a fever but was told that she had cancer. My wife and I rushed to the hospital where we found her sitting up in bed, talking to her sister and an ICU nurse. We were so relieved, but things quickly changed in the middle of the night. Doctors called and advised us to get back to the hospital immediately. Once we arrived, we were told Hannah’s death was imminent. Doctors urged us to contact nearby family and friends to allow them the opportunity to spend the next few hours saying goodbye. Hannah had quickly begun to exhibit symptoms of acute disseminated intravascular coagulation, which means her blood was not clotting, as a result she suddenly began bleeding throughout her entire body. For the next three weeks Hannah remained in ICU in a comatose state attached to a ventilator, receiving dialysis and blood transfusions 24 hours a day. Based on the bleak prognosis, we didn’t know if she would survive, but remained hopeful. As the days went on, my wife and I never left Hannah’s bedside; we prayed, talked to her and rubbed her baby bump, anything to encourage her to survive.
Donated Blood Helped My Daughter to Keep Fighting
We knew the transfusions were working because Hannah and the baby were still alive, but she remained pale and in a coma. Against all odds she began to show signs of improvement. Doctors even confirmed our unborn grandchild was thriving. The baby was delivered at 34 weeks. Hannah’s eyesight had become impaired due to the excessive bleeding throughout her body, so her love at first sight reaction was delayed until a week after Jenson was born. In all Hannah received 40 units of donated blood and 38 units of donated platelets. Today, we have our daughter and grandson thanks to the generosity of blood donors. Without them the hospital couldn’t have provided the lifesaving blood they needed, and we wouldn’t know the joys of spoiling our first grandchild.
My wife and I became regular blood donors after witnessing Hannah receive five gallons of blood. We now understand the importance of hospitals having blood available when patients need it. When you donate you’re saving people’s lives. It’s amazing how many people need blood and there’s nothing else like it – no alternative or synthetic property that can take its place.
A Badged Community that Works Together
In addition to donating blood I’ve also started working with local firefighters and police officers to organize and host blood drives in Hannah’s name. The first was held this past winter and the rest have been staggered to coincide with winter and summer months when shortages occur most frequently. It’s been extremely rewarding. I urge you all to seek ways to host your own blood drive or simply find a location to donate blood. Hannah’s strength and courage throughout her battle with cancer inspired me to help further. So, one day I started attending local Red Cross meetings. I became so active that members voted me Board President. Now I have the honor and privilege of meeting donors face to face and learning about their incredible blood donation milestones. I greet each with a smile, confident that I will reach the same milestones one day.
Tips for Hosting a Blood Drive in Your Community
Hosting a blood drive with the Red Cross is easy, they provide a wealth of resources, so your drive is executed without a glitch. You find the location, volunteers and rally donors while Red Cross provides planning assistance, recruitment tools, day of equipment, supplies and trained staff. For more details on how to host a blood drive click here.
Help End the #BloodEmergency
Right now, the American Red Cross has an emergency need for eligible individuals of all blood types to give now and help save patient lives. Currently blood donations are being distributed to hospitals faster than donations are coming in—blood donors are needed to help avoid delays in lifesaving medical care. Schedule your blood donation appointment by visiting RedCrossBlood.org.