Blood Drive Sponsor Stories
American Red Cross blood drive coordinators play a critical role in maintaining a stable blood supply. These dedicated volunteers all have their own stories, but are a source of universal inspiration.
While serving as an Environmental Health Specialist for the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness, I never fully appreciated the need for blood donations. October 20, 2008 was one of the happiest days of my life. My daughter Audrey Ann Nethery was born. She was 4 weeks early and weighed 4lbs 10oz. The hospital stay lasted for 3 weeks and during that time Audrey received a blood transfusion. Doctors said transfusions were common for premature infants and there was no need to worry. Unfortunately a few days after Christmas my wife and I found ourselves at the emergency room at Kosair Childrens hospital. Audrey’s red blood cell count was dangerously low. During this visit Audrey received her second blood transfusion. Since then Audrey has been diagnosed with Diamond Blackfan Anemia. The disorder is an extremely rare form of anemia (around 700 people worldwide have been diagnosed with this condition) in which the person’s bone marrow does not produce red blood cells. Audrey needs to receive packed red blood cells every 3-4 weeks in order to survive. This has opened my eyes to the need for donated blood within our community. Everyday 38,000 units of blood are needed in our country. A person needs blood roughly every 2 seconds. My daughter would not survive if not for persons willing to donate blood. I donated blood for the first time at the first drive that I sponsored and have donated whenever I could afterwards. I just want to share information that donating blood saves lives and can affect people you know and work along side everyday. I am so appreciative to the individuals whose blood is within my daughter at this very moment. Without that blood my little angel would not be with us today.
Can't Donate as Often, so I Sponsor
I’ve been a donor since high school, and then I joined the community service committee at my office. I saw all these organizations that ask for money and thought a blood drive is a lovely way to give without having to open your wallet. And it can mean so much more.
Recently, I’ve been getting migraines when I donate, so I have had to reduce the frequency of my donations. But this has only encouraged me to keep coordinating the drives. And some day, I hope to have enough time to volunteer to help out at other drives as well.
Saving a Mommy
On the morning of September 5, 2009, I was admitted to Good Samaritan Hospital for a scheduled induction to delivery my third child, a little boy! I have two daughters and had normal, textbook pregnancies and deliveries in 1998 and 2001. I had a normal pregnancy with my son and was so excited to meet the newest addition to our family. I met with my Doctor and nurses and the induction process was started. I sent my husband to the cafeteria to get some breakfast and decided to take a nap- I was going to need some extra energy in the next few hours and wanted to rest up!
Suddenly, I woke up with severe shortness of breath and panic took over my body, I hit the red “HELP” button on my hospital bed and my nurse, Jamie, came running into my room, she checked the baby monitor and saw my son was in distress as a result of my shortness of breath- she looked at me and told me “Christie, we need to get that baby out of you NOW”. She ran me into the surgery room for an Emergency C-Section. I remember being whisked into the surgery room, being placed on the surgery table and a huge sheet being placed over my stomach area so they could begin the C-Section.
My husband was paged over the hospital intercom and was rushed to the surgery room to sit by my side-I was so scared – I didn’t know what was happening to me. I was in the surgery room for 8 hours that day- I have a few flashbacks of being in the room- I remember seeing my husband come into the room and I remember when they told me my son was born- they held him up over my head so I could see him and then rushed him (and my husband) to the NICU to have him evaluated and treated.
Two amazing women- my nurses Elise and Jamie sat by my side while I was on the surgery table- they held my hand and comforted me- I was so scared! I also remember my guardian angel, Dr. Kendrick (along with Dr. Manuel and Dr. Mendoza) talking to me and trying to reassure me. That’s all I remember until I woke up three days later in the ICU unit. I had a breathing tube in my mouth and I could not talk- I was so scared and had no idea what happened to me and why I was in the ICU- I didn’t know what happened to my son- was he born – was he okay?
My family had stayed with me around the clock during my stay in ICU- when I woke up on Monday- my sister Erin was by my bedside- I could not talk because of the breathing tube- but I made a gesture to my sister to get me a pencil – I jotted four words down on a piece of paper – “What happened to me?”
What did happen to me? I suffered a rare, often-fatal syndrome known as amniotic fluid embolism (AFE) during labor. Amniotic fluid, fetal cells, hair, or other debris entered my blood stream and triggered an allergic reaction. This reaction often results in heart and lung collapse and coagulopathy. AFE is thought to be result of an anaphylactic like response to the fluid that surrounded and nourished my son. AFE is so rare ((between 1 in 8000 and 1 in 80,000 deliveries, although more recent studies show 1 in 20,464 deliveries for a more accurate number) most physicians only know if it from medical school. Although AFE is the 2nd leading cause of maternal mortality in the United States, very little is known about it- making it impossible to predict and even more challenging to treat.
I suffered from massive hemorrhaging requiring approximately 41 units of blood/blood products. I had an amazing team of doctors and nurses at Good Samaritan Hospital, a guardian angel watching me that day and 41 units of blood/blood products that saved my life. 41 people that made blood donations that changed my life forever. My husband will not have live without his wife and my children will not grow up without a mother. I am still alive today thanks to these 41 people.
Blood cannot be manufactured and can only come from donations- it saves lives, it saved mine! I still get teary eyed thinking about what my family went through that day last September! I no longer take life for granted and look in the mirror every day and thank God for letting me see another day and to enjoy the greatest gifts of my life- my children. I hug my children a little tighter everyday and kiss them every night and humbled and so grateful to be a mother, wife, daughter, sister, cousin, niece, granddaughter, auntie and friend.
What could I do?
I never gave a thought to what blood drives and blood donation are all about until my Dad got Leukemia. In my struggle to help anyway I could, I approached my boss and the American Red Cross. In February 2006, we had our first drive, we touched 162 lives that year, and a total of 573 lives since then. Unfortuneately, my Dad passed in March 2006, but the blood transfusions he got helped more than the donors could ever know. I hope that my efforts as a donor and a blood drive coordinator will help other families, just as the donors did who helped my family.
Take the time and make a difference -- Donate Blood!
The precious gift of giving
Your blood donations saved a dear family member, who I also had the pleasure to work with. My sister-in-law was diagnosed with lymphoma cancer throughout her body, which required several blood transfusions during her treatment. This inspired me to coordinate a blood drive at work, to build up a blood supply in her name. The response was over whelming, knowing it was for someone they personally knew or someone who worked in the neighboring business park. It ended up being a two day drive, and over 90 pints were collected. I am happy to say this was over seven years ago and my sister-in-law is now in remission. The fact is, in your lifetime everyone will need blood or will know of someone in need. This is a precious gift we rely on each other for as human beings, as there is no other source. This fact alone is my driving force in these coordinating efforts to save more lives. It’s a nice thought knowing one hour of your time can save up to three lives. It’s not only three lives, but three entire families who are spared. What better gift is there than that? Blessing to all of you site coordinators, your willingness to help is bringing hope and joy to so many families.
A way to help
When I used to work for a management consulting company, I used to organize the office blood drives. Initially, I started organizing blood drives because we all traveled constantly, and there weren't many things we could do together as a company in a coordinated way. But Fridays were 'office days' and the Red Cross made it easy for all of us to give back to the community in a way that was convenient, easy-to-organize, and feel-good.
What we all discovered is that the blood drives were *fun* (people volunteered to bring cookies and treats) and built morale within our team. We felt we were really making an impact (helping save lives is no small feat!), and we felt proud when we hit our drive goals. I think it's a great thing to do!