In 1970, to honor the selfless people who give of themselves as blood donors, the United States designated January as National Blood Donor Month.
Blood donations help accident and burn victims, heart surgery and organ transplant patients, and those receiving treatment for cancer. We refer to these donations as the gift of life. To understand why, look no further than Kinzie Frey, diagnosed with stage-four, high-risk neuroblastoma, a particularly aggressive form of cancer, at just six years old.
In July 2015, after months of vague symptoms and emergency room visits, Kinzie went to the hospital. Her doctors discovered that a tumor the size of a mini basketball. Her doctors immediately began an aggressive treatment protocol, often referred to as “kitchen sink,” to fight the cancer and prevent it from returning.
Over the course of 18 months, Kinzie received an astounding number of transfusions totaling 46 red blood cell transfusions and 72 platelet transfusions. Her mother Holly said: “If it weren’t for the generosity of blood donors, Kinzie wouldn’t be here with us today. Those blood donations aren’t only a gift to Kinzie, but to our family, friends and supporters. They are also a reminder to give for the benefit of others.”
I first met Kinzie and her Mother Holly approximately eighteen months ago. At that time Kinzie was extremely frail. She had lost her hair during the course of her cancer treatment, but her fighting spirit was apparent. Just recently I saw her again and she’s coming back – gaining weight, hair growing back but most importantly with the energy of an eight-year-old child.
Blood Donation: The Gift of Life
This is just one story illustrating how blood donations truly are the gift of life for patients in need. Yet, only 3 percent of the population are blood donors. If you are a donor – thank you! I encourage you to look around at your friends and neighbors and invite them to come with you to your next donation. It’s always easier to do something for the first time with a friend.
If you are not currently a donor, National Blood Donor Month is the perfect time to change that. Patients are counting on YOU!
How to Help
To schedule an appointment to donate, use the free Blood Donor App, visit redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). Donation appointments and completion of a RapidPass online health history questionnaire are encouraged to help reduce the time it takes to donate.
To learn more about platelet donation please go to redcrossblood.org/platelets
Who Blood Donations Help
Every two seconds in the United States blood and platelets are needed to respond to patient emergencies. That includes accident and burn treatment, heart surgery and organ transplant, and leukemia, cancer, or sickle cell disease treatment. The Red Cross must collect nearly 14,000 blood donations every day for patients at approximately 2,600 hospitals across the country.
Mary Brant is external communications manager for American Red Cross Blood Services, Northern New England Region. For more information, please visit redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.