As romantics everywhere search for the right gift for that special someone this Valentine’s Day, patients who have needed transfusions are grateful for the gift from the heart given by generous blood donors.
MEET AMY JONES Amy Jones made simple goals for herself while growing up: attend college, become a teacher and start a family. She has accomplished everything she set out to achieve and enjoys life alongside her husband, Ryan, and their 4-year-old son, Carter. But Amy’s journey was not easy. In fact, it almost never happened.
“Without dedicated American Red Cross blood and platelet donors, I wouldn’t have been able to grow up, get married and have my son,” said Amy. “I hope people realize that blood and platelet donations can not only help a patient in need, but can have an impact on future generations. My family and I are living proof of that.”
At age 10, Amy started to always feel tired and lethargic. She seemed to develop bruises very easily and her skin turned yellow. Realizing that this wasn’t normal, Amy’s mother took her to the doctor. Amy was diagnosed with leukemia and had to undergo high doses of chemotherapy treatments every six weeks to combat the cancer. Like many other patients who receive chemotherapy, Amy received several blood and platelet transfusions to help fight the side effects.
“Chemotherapy was a difficult process because it’s just so draining,” said Amy. “But it was the donated blood and platelets I received that gave me the strength to help fight the cancer.”
Amy’s leukemia went into remission after two-and-a-half years of ongoing treatment, and she was released from her doctors. “My family and I thought we had beaten this,” said Amy. “But, unfortunately, this was just the beginning.”
Amy relapsed at age 15, forcing her to endure more intense chemotherapy treatments. After receiving more than 100 pints of donated blood and platelets during this period, Amy’s cancer went into remission again.
INSPIRING OTHERS Now in her thirties, Amy has been cancer-free for almost 20 years. She helps encourage others to donate lifesaving blood and platelets to help patients in need. Her husband is one of those inspired donors.
Amy and Ryan met when she was battling cancer for the second time. They were both participating in a fundraiser for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Although Ryan was a blood donor before meeting Amy, having such a close connection to a blood product recipient is a strong motivation for him to keep giving. Their love story was made possible thanks to the generosity of blood donors.
“I became a blood donor because I understand just how important and how powerful donated blood is,” said Ryan. “Without generous donors, Amy and Carter would not be with me today and we would not have our wonderful family. I thank all those who give blood to help patients and encourage others to become regular donors.”
THE NEED IS CONSTANT Since February 8, severe winter weather across parts of the U.S. has impacted the Red Cross blood supply. About 170 Red Cross blood drives in nine states were canceled, resulting in a shortfall of more than 7,100 units of blood and platelets. Although the winter weather has impacted people’s availability to donate, hospital patients still need blood products.
HOW TO GIVE To schedule a donation time, or for more information about giving blood, people can call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit redcrossblood.org. A blood donor card or driver’s license, or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental permission in some states), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally 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.