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Pay it Forward: Infant septicemia donee to adult healthy donor

  

Leslie

Oakland, CA
November 21, 2012
I was born 6 weeks early, and except for being skinny, I was a healthy preemie. I even went on my first camping trip to Lassen Park at 10 weeks of age! A few weeks later I became suddenly very sick with two types of bacteria growing in my blood throughout my body. Septicemia is life threatening, period, and especially for an infant without its still-developing immune system ready to fight so hard. As well as being on massive doses of antibiotics, I received 12 "exchange transfusions". My mom said, "they poured good blood in one end and removed bad (infected) blood from the other". I'm not sure that's how it works, but one can be sure I'm grateful for those who donated the blood I needed! It's easy to think "someone else will do it", but those of us who donate know of the many factors that can prevent an otherwise-willing person from donating blood. For a while, my hematocrit/hemoglobin level measured too low for me to qualify as a donor, and I felt frustrated that I couldn't donate when I wanted to. Don't give up, if this happens to you! Now my body seems to have changed; I'm happy to be able to donate this RENEWABLE, SUSTAINABLE RESOURCE to aid people of all ages who can benefit from whatever part of my blood they need! Because I CAN donate, I feel I MUST! Unknown people were there for me in the '50s and they never knew they helped save my life. It's my obligation to give back what and when I can - that idea of "pay it forward". Donating blood is something that ANYONE can TRY to do. We all have a lot of interests and weeks pass by faster than I think they should. I get my hair cut every 8 weeks, so I find it's easier to make my blood donation appointments for the same day, right afterward. It has become an easy ritual, and I don't have to remember to check the calendar or wait for a scheduling call. I look forward to saying hello to you in a chair next to me or over snacks!