By Elsa Finkbonner
You may not remember me, but a good portion of you will remember my son, Jake Finkbonner. At age five he was playing basketball when he was pushed from behind, flew forward, and hit his mouth on the base of the basketball hoop. His tooth pierced his lip and he was instantly infected with Strep A, also known as flesh-eating bacteria.
He was airlifted from PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center in Bellingham to Seattle Children’s Hospital. His condition was so critical the doctors were unsure as to what they were dealing with. Jake’s head had swollen to twice its normal size and his eyes were swollen shut. My son was unrecognizable. On Valentine’s Day, they took Jake into the operating room for his first surgery; more than 20 would follow in the next 18 days.
During his surgeries, Jake lost much blood. It is estimated that he received as many as 100 units of donated blood during his operations. I don’t know what a unit of blood looks like, but when I look into my son’s beautiful little eyes every day I know what a unit of blood looks like in a life.
So far, Jake has undergone 25 surgeries. He’s just 7 years old and his journey has just begun. At the time, I didn’t realize the importance of blood drives. Next time that you are donating blood, remember what your donation means to people like us. It means a gift of life.