For the Love of Grandma

January 14, 2011 at 9:08 am

Alecia Burgett and her Great-Grandmother, Minnie

By Alecia Burgett

I have always been scared of needles, even when working in the field of veterinary medicine. However, I found myself always wanting to donate blood, so I was in a catch 22. My story is a simple story, but one that is very personal to me.

It was on a Monday morning that my mother came into my room to update me that my great-grandmother had gone to the hospital last night because of a fall. This wasn’t the first time she had fallen, but it was more serious then before. We went to the hospital, and seeing my grandmother lying there so helpless was terribly difficult. She was hooked up to fluids and couldn’t even recognize who I was. My mother and I gave her a hug and after a few words went on our way.

I had talked to my mother earlier about wanting to donate blood, but had told her no one would donate with me. She asked why I didn’t just visit the Blood Center myself and see what they would say. I decided then that I didn’t want to use other people’s inaction as an excuse anymore. While shopping near the Federal Way Donation Center, I decided to stop in just to ask a few questions about eligibility. The woman at the desk was very helpful and asked if I wanted to donate right then. I got clammy and fumbled my words but decided if not now, then when?

My grandmother was in the hospital along with many other mothers, fathers, sons, and daughters, and who knew when they would need the blood I could donate? I filled the paperwork, went through my mini physical and sat in the chair. My palms were cold and I was shaking, but I knew that what I was doing was life-changing to someone, a stranger. The poke was so easy and before I knew it the process was over. The staff at the center was so caring and helpful in calming my nerves; they talked me through the whole donation, from start to finish. I will never know who gets my donations but I know they will appreciate every donation. Rest assured I will be donating every chance I get, and I will be thinking of my grandmother every time I donate.

Schedule your own blood donation at a donor center.

Only from the Veins of Heroes

January 2, 2011 at 8:13 pm

By Gena Krupka

In 1969, my mother had emergency surgery and received a life-saving blood transfusion. Without that transfusion, I would have missed 30 years with my mother, and missed many firsts. Because of this, I became a blood drive coordinator.

Today, my passion is renewed by the story of two young people whose mother received two life-saving transfusions in 2006. She received the first after undergoing surgery to remove two-thirds of her stomach due to gastric cancer. She received the second to replenish red blood cells destroyed by the cancer exterminator, also known as chemotherapy.

Katie’s mother would have missed her only daughter moving out on her own, and missed hearing her amazing revelation that “Things are SOOOO expensive.” She would have missed Zachary obtaining the all-important driving permit, along with those first drives that put that touch of “silver” in her hair.

Prayers, love from friends & family, doctors, nurses, and modern medicine were all crucial in saving this woman’s life. But of all those things, there was one thing that could not have been found anywhere but from the veins of her hero’s.

On May 31, 2006 I underwent surgery for gastric cancer and later received two life-saving transfusions. To each and every person who ever, in any way, has been involved in a community blood drive, thank you from all of us who have benefited. We, who live because of The Gift of Life, without your generosity, wouldn’t.

Schedule your own blood donation at a donor center.

Puget Sound Blood Center saved me and my baby

December 23, 2010 at 2:21 am

Kathleen Could Give Birth to Joey Thanks to Treatments at Puget Sound Blood Center

When Kathleen Summers and husband Jon moved to Seattle five years ago with their 2 year old Jack, they were on top of the world. A trip to her obstetrician brought joy – she was pregnant – immediately followed by shock, heartache and depression because the blood test also revealed that, at age 29, Kathleen had leukemia.

A hematologist/oncologist confirmed the diagnosis: chronic myeloid leukemia. Her only chance of survival was a bone marrow transplant. A search began on the National Donor Marrow Program Registry.

In the meantime, Kathleen’s doctors worried that the disease would accelerate under the physical strain of pregnancy. “But there was no way that I was not having my baby,” Kathleen insisted. Her physician recommended a procedure at Puget Sound Blood Center called leukapherisis, which removes the excess of white cells. She went three times a week, for up to six hours a visit, and became close to the Blood Center Staff. “They gave me a lot of TLC.” Laughing, she adds, “My fondest memories of Leukemia are from the Blood Center.”

Four months into her treatments, Kathleen gave birth to Joey, a premature but healthy baby boy. Kathleen still had leukemia, but a bone marrow match had been found, and in July, the transplant was performed. After months of recovery, observation and constant care, Kathleen learned that the leukemia was still there. She lost half of her body weight, and was in extraordinary pain. “I wrote my will, planned my funeral and watched my kids through tears because I knew I wouldn’t be there much longer.”

A few months later she received another shock: tests showed her leukemia was gone. She says, “My immune system finally kicked it on its own. No one could explain it except to call it a miracle.”

Kathleen is now a healthy, active full-time mom who volunteers and speaks for the Blood Center and bone marrow transplantation.

Living a normal life, thanks to regular donors

December 13, 2010 at 3:18 pm

At least 15 blood donors are needed each week to keep Reid Morgan healthy.

By Reid Morgan

At 5 days old, Reid was diagnosed with hemophilia and referred to Puget Sound Blood Center. From infancy through adulthood, he has lived with the treatments, the physical limitations, the slow-clotting cuts and the more dangerous bruising and internal bleeding that all sever hemophiliacs endure. He’s also lived with pain. A slightly sprained ankle can bleed unchecked inside the joint capsule; it not only hurts, but it can lead to deformity and arthritis.

The Blood Center has helped Reid deal with it all. For over three decades, he and other Northwest patients have received both medical care and education about coping with bleeding disorders through the Blood Center’s hemophilia clinic and its annual camp retreat, Camp I-VY.

“Camp I-VY is invaluable,” he says. “It allows patient families to get together: parents talk to one another; kids talk to other hemophiliacs and find out that, despite all the blood products we receive, we’re really not that different.

“Without the Blood Center’s hemophilia program, I don’t know how my life would have turned out,” Reid says. Not as well, he reasons, without the care he received from hemophilia clinic co-founders Dr. Richard Counts and Dr. Art Thompson, who still runs the program.

“For me to have a ‘normal life,’ I need the protein from 45 pints of blood every week,” Reid explains. “That’s a lot of people donating to Puget Sound Blood Center and I’m really very appreciative. I really do have a normal life because of them.”

Schedule your own blood donation at a donor center.

Edited by Sean DeButts, Social Media Coordinator

I feel as if I am personally responsible for saving many lives every day.

November 30, 2010 at 2:03 pm

David Lazar, Blood Hero

By David Lazar

I’ve been giving blood all my life. This year, I switched to plasma at the request of the Blood Center. I’ve always believed that if by doing an act, I can help, and I don’t have a good reason not to do so, then it is my responsibility.

We’ve all seen the Blood Center’s signs stating, “Imagine Saving a Life.” While this is probably aimed at recruiting new blood donors, it makes me feel good whenever I see it. I feel as if I am personally responsible for saving not just a single life, but many lives every day. I find it easy to believe that many of my friends and neighbors who have been sick or injured have benefited from my donation – even if they did not receive the exact blood that I gave.

So why do I give blood? Perhaps it is the ability to help others in the community who are least able to help themselves. Perhaps it is the fact that this is a way I can ensure there is help for me if I ever need it. But the most compelling reason, to me, is that it is so easy – it requires no money, no more than an hour or two, and my body quickly regenerates whatever I give.

For all these reasons, I will continue to give, and I will continue telling my friends, my kids, and my workmates how good it makes me feel. To life!

Schedule your own blood donation at a donor center.

Edited by Sean DeButts, Social Media Coordinator

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