Bloodworks Beyond Borders: My Best-Kept Secret

June 12, 2018 at 1:07 pm

By: Susan Peck

This month, join Bloodworks Global Health Ambassador Susan Peck on an eye-opening journey through eastern Africa. In partnership with the Bloodworks Center for Global Impact, Susan will visit Tanzania and Kenya to learn about the state of blood transfusion throughout the African continent and report how Bloodworks is making blood more accessible to patients in need. Susan is a dedicated blood donor and a former Bloodworks Board of Trustees member—this is her first travel log.

Bloodworks Global Health Ambassador Susan Peck with her dog, Mojo.

“Best-kept secrets” aren’t always a good thing, especially when you have something to crow about. For example, Bloodworks Northwest is known as the community blood center throughout Western Washington and Oregon. But what many people might not know about—my best-kept secret—is the organization’s work to bring about change in the global medical landscape.

This month the Bloodworks Center for Global Impact is returning to the African continent, where our team is working to make blood more accessible to people in remote locations. This is especially critical for women in these areas who die in huge numbers during or after giving birth.

I had no idea that so many mothers died during the birthing process—and I was shocked to learn that even here in the United States, more women are dying from pregnancy-related complications than in any other developed country. The motto that resonated with me is “no woman should die giving life.”

Susan, pictured with other members of the Bloodworks Board of Trustees.

So I’m going to Africa to see Bloodworks’ efforts to help mothers and other patients—and to share those stories with you. I’ll attend the African Society for Blood Transfusion Congress in Tanzania to learn about maternal health and blood availability across the continent, then travel to Eldoret, Kenya where I’ll observe Bloodworks innovations in action.

“Why me?” I have asked myself. I am not a doctor, researcher or diplomat—I’m your common Jane. A bit about me: I was a member of the Bloodworks Board of Trustees during the mid-nineties when I was the only woman among businessmen, doctors and attorneys—all a good 20 years older than I. (Since then, more women have joined the board, which is now led by Holli Harris, a remarkable woman in her own right!) I was a stay-at-home mother of two elementary children. I give blood because I see this as a service I can physically provide my brothers and sisters.

Susan with her husband, Bowen, daughter, Annalee and Mojo.

Why me? Well, why not me? Bloodworks is altering the medical landscape in stride with Fred Hutchinson, Seattle Children’s Hospital, Northwest Kidney Centers and many other healthcare giants. To be at the forefront during these progressive times is and has been a treat. To consume with my own eyes and experience the progression of lifesaving research makes me feel a part of it. Sharing with you what I see on the African continent, how I interact with its people and the knowledge I will gain at the transfusion congress will enrich my life. Being a part of the Bloodworks team is an honor and I am so excited to be a reporter and Global Health Ambassador.

The Bloodworks Center for Global Impact is dedicated to developing and implementing healthcare delivery innovations in underserved regions around the world. Learn more and support the Center’s lifesaving work by making a donation today