The American Red Cross urgently needs both blood and platelet donations to ensure an adequate supply for patients all summer long. Eligible donors with types O negative, B negative and A negative blood are especially encouraged to give. Type O negative is the universal blood type and can be transfused to anyone who needs blood. Types A negative and B negative can be transfused to Rh positive or negative patients.
Summer is a particularly challenging time to ensure a sufficient supply of blood and platelets is available for patients. Many regular donors become busy with summer activities and are unable to make giving blood a priority. Those who are able to fit blood or platelet donation into their schedules can be lifesavers for patients in need.
MEET THE MAUGHAN FAMILY Every parent has heard horror stories about the “terrible twos.” Most parents brace themselves to deal with tantrums, but they never imagine their toddler having to face a life-threatening illness. The “terrible twos” now have a very different meaning for the Maughan family.
Angie and Kevin Maughan thought their toddler, James, had come down with a case of the chicken pox. But, what they thought was a normal childhood illness turned out to be anything but normal. James was diagnosed on Mother’s Day with a rapidly-spreading and potentially deadly form of meningitis.
Bacteria had devastated the 2-year-old’s body and he was given little chance of surviving. However, through medical care and daily transfusions of lifesaving blood, platelets and plasma, James managed to ward off the bacteria.
“The spots were continuing to grow, covering 90 percent of his body by two a.m.,” Angela said. “He received five plasma transfusions over five days and more blood transfusions (whole blood and platelets) than I could count.”
Unfortunately, before the bacterial meningitis subsided, it destroyed most of the capillaries in James’ body, preventing proper circulation to his limbs. As a result, on June 3, James underwent amputation surgery of his left leg, right hand and middle finger on his left hand.
James and his parents still have a long recovery in front of them, but the help of family and friends has made the journey a little easier. Just last month, they hosted a Red Cross blood drive in honor of James to help ensure patients like him across the country have the lifesaving blood products they need. They far exceeded their 80-unit goal, collecting 120 units total.
“When we walked in and saw the number of people, all of the chairs for donors were full,” Angela said. “We were very overwhelmed, impressed and amazed.”
“It was heartwarming, enough to make you want to cry,” said Kevin.
Through this experience the Maughan family has learned the importance of blood donations. “James wouldn’t have lived without them past day one,” Angela said, and is encouraging others to donate as often as possible. “Don’t wait to donate blood, do it as soon as you can.”
HOW TO GIVE For more information about donating blood, or to make an appointment to donate blood or platelets, please visit redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). Individuals who are at least 17 years of age (16 with parental consent in some states), weigh at least 110 pounds and be in good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.