Every day, blood donors make a lifesaving difference for patients in need when help can’t wait. This Red Cross Month, we’re grateful for everyone who rolls up their sleeves to donate blood, platelets or plasma.
You may not personally know those you help when you donate blood, but you give people who are battling cancer, living with sickle cell or chronic diseases, and recovering from traumatic injuries a fighting chance. Here’s how blood is making a difference in the lives of patients and their families every day.
The Hendrix Family
“People like me are eternally grateful for that sacrifice.”
In 2019, Laketa Hendrix gave birth to her first child, Ari, but never expected that she would need the help of generous blood donors to help save her life. She ended up losing a lot of blood during the birthing process and required several blood transfusions. Laketa’s husband, Brandon, recalled his initial thoughts during the traumatic event stating, “I thought I was going to gain a child and lose my wife.”
Now, the Hendrix family pays it forward by giving blood regularly and Brandon frequently gives Power Red donations, a concentrated donation of two red cell units. Recently, they had a second child, and thankfully, Laketa did not need any blood transfusions.
Barrett the Brave Little Boy
“Today my baby’s health was improved because someone gave blood.”
In March of 2021, Barret Gregory’s mom, Abby, found a small lump in Barrett’s cheek. After several visits to the doctor, Abby discovered that he had a malignant tumor that was a rare form of pediatric cancer called rhabdomyosarcoma. Barrett was not even 2 years old yet when he was diagnosed and had to start on a rigorous treatment plan of chemotherapy, radiation, and possibly surgery, over a 12-to 14-month period.
To keep his red blood cell count up for treatments, Barrett required multiple blood transfusions during a critical time when there was a national blood shortage across the country. Although Barrett may still need blood transfusions to stay strong for chemo treatments today, he continues to have a fighting chance because of the generosity of blood donors.
Sickle Cell Warriors Britney and Nikyah
“Transfusions give me and my daughter hope. Blood donations really do save lives.”
Britney and Nikyah Woolfork are a mother and daughter duo who are living with sickle cell disease. Growing up, Britney was extremely active and played sports until she began experiencing a lot of pain. After several trips to the emergency room, doctors finally diagnosed her with sickle cell disease at 8 years old. After Britney’s diagnosis, everything changed. Now, she requires frequent blood transfusions to keep her blood oxygen levels high and decrease the risk of blood clots that may cause severe pain or a stroke.
For Britney, “some days aren’t too bad. But then some days, I’ll be hurting so bad in my arms, legs and joints that I have to go to the hospital for relief.” Sickle cell disease is unpredictable, and not only does Britney have to battle the pain every day but so does her 9-year-old daughter, Nikyah. She has also had her fair share of pain, including having her spleen removed, but she continues to stay positive and active through the process.
Postpartum Mother of Twins
“The reason why I was able to be a mom to my kids and get a chance to watch them grow up was because of donors. Without strangers’ acts of kindness, I wouldn’t have had that opportunity.”
In January 2020, Kelsey Nelson experienced a smooth delivery process after welcoming healthy twin babies into the world. Unfortunately, 12 days later, she experienced a secondary post-partum hemorrhage that required her to be sent back to the hospital. During surgery, Kelsey lost so much blood that her doctors determined she needed a massive blood transfusion protocol, essentially the rapid distribution of large amounts of blood products. Kelsey required eight units of blood products to save her life. “I remember vividly my doctor trying to help me understand the gravity of the situation after the surgery. She said, ‘To put it in perspective, you don’t have a single drop of your own blood in your body right now,’” she recalls.
Kelsey ended up spending nearly a week in the hospital and was so grateful to have a second chance at life to spend with her new family. After receiving numerous blood transfusions, she made a commitment to give blood regularly as a way to help others in need and cope with her trauma. Kelsey’s experience has also encouraged her family and friends to donate regularly and in honor of her.
A Father of Six
“If I have not received the blood I wouldn’t be here today.”
Phillip Hanks, a father of six, started losing a lot of weight and feeling a sharp pain in 2019. That pain led to a diagnosis of multi-organ failure. Phillip underwent five organ transplants within two days, he received a new liver, small and large intestine, stomach, pancreas and kidney. Partly thanks to the numerous blood transfusions he received, he is alive today and able to watch his children grow up.
Brook and Steve Ismail
“Our family is so grateful to all of the blood donors who made time to share their good health with people they will never even meet. Their donations helped my father survive this horrible accident.”
– Lauren, Steven’s daughter
Brooke and Steven Ismail were taking a bike ride on a country road near their home in Glenburn, Maine, when a pickup truck drove right into them. They hadn’t expected to end this beautiful day fighting for their lives. Unfortunately, the driver was blinded by the sunlight and didn’t realize he hit them till he heard a large thump. Brooke and Steven were transported to the hospital by the ambulance. Fortunately, Brooke suffered minor injuries, but Steven had internal bleeding. He required so much blood – to the point where emergency room personnel used a special device to inject blood into his body quicker.
Steve needed nearly 40 units of blood to help save his life. Partly thanks to the lifesaving blood products readily available for Steve in the hospital, he’s alive and well today.
Your Help Is Still Needed
Whether you donated for the first time or are a long-time donor, we thank you for all your support. But, your lifesaving gift is still needed as we continue to experience unique challenges through this ongoing pandemic. Sadly, blood cannot be manufactured. This means we need generous blood donors to make appointments to give in the days, weeks and months to come to ensure we can maintain a sufficient blood supply for hospitals and patients in need.
To schedule an appointment to donate today visit RedCrossBlood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). Fun fact: You can also make an appointment by using our Red Cross Blood Donor App here.