Donating blood saves lives - emergency need for blood and platelet donors continues

July 19, 2012

Summer is a great time for vacationing and spending more time outside with family and friends. But with so many people enjoying summer activities, donating blood or platelets doesn’t always make the “to-do” list. Currently, blood donations through the American Red Cross are at the lowest level in 15 years. All blood types are needed to ensure and adequate blood supply is available for patients like Ella Cook.

At the age of four, Ella Cook has already had three open-heart surgeries.

Ella, who is from Murray, Nebraska, was diagnosed with hypoplastic left heart syndrome – a rare and complex heart defect – before she was born. The left side of her heart was too small and underdeveloped to send enough blood to her body.

Ella had her first surgery just six days after her birth. As a seven pound baby, Ella didn’t even have enough blood in her body to prime the heart-lung machine used during the surgery. A Red Cross donor’s type O positive blood was used to sustain her. Four month later, Ella underwent a second surgery to “replumb” her tiny heart and again relied on donated blood.

Recently, a third surgery was performed on Ella. Though in the end Ella didn’t need a blood transfusion, the hospital had blood on hand for this surgery, too. Ella was fortunate that blood was readily available if she needed it.

Ella’s parents, Dave and Jenny Cook, recognize the vital part blood donations played in her surgeries. “There’s a stranger in Ella’s story that we don’t even know,” said Jenny. “I’m very thankful that someone out there gave blood. That person helped to save our daughter’s life.”

Approximately every two seconds a patient in the United States needs a blood transfusion. The need is constant. Call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit to learn more and schedule an appointment today to donate.