The American Red Cross has issued a reminder that donating blood can help to save the life of a sick or injured patient in need. However, there are times when the process plays out a little differently, and the person who benefits most from a blood donation is actually the donor.
Every two seconds, someone in the United States needs blood. Accident victims, as well as cancer patients, patients with sickle cell disease and other blood disorders, burn victims and many others receive lifesaving transfusions every day. There is no substitute for blood and volunteer donors are the only source.
That was the case for California resident Laurel “Laurie” Landes.
In July of 2001, Landes felt like “doing something good for someone”. She had been a blood donor in the past, but hadn’t given blood since the late 1960s, when she lived in Florida. Giving blood felt like the right thing to do, so she went to the nearest American Red Cross center.
Landes’ donation at the Pleasanton Blood Donation Center was uneventful. And it wasn’t until days later that she realized how much that blood donation would change her life.
About a week after donating, Landes received a letter from the Red Cross. The letter informed her that tests done on her blood revealed she had hepatitis C. Doctors would later confirm those initial test results.
“No one knows how long I had [hepatitis C],” Landes said. “I was completely asymptomatic. There were no signs that I was sick.”
She would endure a number of treatments during the next seven years, but nothing would work. In 2008, Landes found out the hepatitis C had led to liver cancer and that she would need a transplant. A successful transplant was performed in October of 2010. Landes received three units of blood in the days following her surgery.
Today, there’s still a chance that the virus she carries could begin attacking the transplanted liver. But Landes is making the most of the extra time that she has been afforded. She began volunteering with Meals on Wheels in January, and she feels a desire to help others ever since her transplant.
“I have plenty of free time right now, and I just want to do nice things for other people,” she said. “The Red Cross saved my life. And I have so much to give back to others.”
Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental permission in some states), meet weight and height requirements (110 pounds or more, depending on their height) and are in general good health may be eligible to give blood. Please bring your Red Cross blood donor card or other form of positive ID when you come to donate.
Eligible blood donors are asked to please call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit redcrossblood.org to find a blood drive and make an appointment.