Bloodworks Beyond Borders: My Best-Kept Secret

This month, join Bloodworks Global Health Ambassador Susan Peck on an eye-opening journey through East Africa with the Bloodworks Center for Global Impact. Susan is a dedicated blood donor and a former Bloodworks Board of Trustees member—this is her first travel log.

By: Susan Peck

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.

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