I was 19 years old the first time I donated blood. I was with my sister—who I suppose would have been 14 at the time—and we were driving past the church in the small town we grew up in and saw they were having a blood drive. I don’t exactly remember how it happened, and maybe Kimberley can chime in here if she remembers, but before I knew it the two of us were sitting in comfy recliners with a tourniquet wrapped around our forearms. We donated our pint, we drank our juice and ate our cookies, and we left that afternoon feeling fully empowered, feeling that we’d just done something awesome.
I donated sporadically over the next five years, until I got to the point where I found myself just booking my next appointment as I left the one previous. I still felt that thrill of having done something awesome, like I’d just saved someone’s life without having done anything at all. I always felt so proud after leaving a blood donation appointment.
Fast forward to September 20th, the day Nyana was born and our lives changed forever. I lost nearly three litres of blood during the delivery and subsequent surgery to remove the placenta. My haemoglobin levels plummeted and I found myself consenting to not one but three blood transfusions over the next week; the doctors were pushing for a fourth transfusion as I was pushing for discharge. Despite the transfusions, it would take hundreds of iron pills over the coming months to shake the constant fatigue I felt from losing so much blood. Because of those transfusions, my blood donation days were over for at least a year.
Nyana didn’t fare much better in her first couple of months in the NICU; in her first hundred days she received no fewer than four transfusions of her own. I look at Don today in all his awesomeness—and look around at the happy little family we’ve built for ourselves—and I’m dumbfounded to think that he came so close to losing it all. That without the kindness of strangers who were willing to take an hour out of their day to donate, there’s a very good chance that this story would be much shorter and much more tragic.
So I’m asking humbly on behalf of Nyana, for all members of her Army who are able, to book an appointment to donate a pint. In just over two months she’ll reach her first birthday, and we’ll all be able to reflect on the year we’ve just endured thanks to the kindness of strangers. We’ll be thankful to people like you and me who appreciate just how much is riding on one simple act, of just taking an hour out of your day. I’ve started an event on Facebook and I encourage all of Nyana’s Army to sign the wall and commit to a one-time donation in Nyana’s name.
In Canada, call 1-888-2-DONATE to book an appointment, or visit www.blood.ca to learn more. If you’re stateside, contact the Red Cross at 1-800-RED-CROSS or visit www.redcrossblood.org to book an appointment. If one hundred people each donate a pint, that’s enough to save the lives of more than 300 people. 500 people could easily help more than a thousand. For all the times I sat in that recliner and gave my donation, I never in a million years ever imagined that I would be in a position where I—and my daughter—would be dependent on someone else making that donation too.
Blood. It’s in you to give.