John Jedrzejek was just 17-years-old when he gave blood for the first time. He had no way of knowing that blood donations would help save the lives of his future son and granddaughter.
His oldest son, born prematurely, needed massive blood transfusions. Thanks to the generosity of strangers, blood was available and John and Flo Jedrzejeks’ son survived.
Years later, the Jedrzejeks’ granddaughter, Sophia, was also born prematurely. Her tiny body’s bone marrow was not yet making platelets, the part of blood that helps it to clot. Transfusions of platelets provided by volunteer donors helped save Sophia’s life.
Unlike units of whole blood, platelets are collected through a process called apheresis. A donor’s blood is passed through a device that separates out the platelets, and returns the remainder of the blood to that individual.
The Jedrzejeks were donating platelets long before they were needed by Sophia in 2007. The Red Cross Blood Services Region in the area where the Jedrzejeks live began collecting platelets in 1978. John, already a regular blood donor, was one of the area’s nine original platelet donors. Flo eventually followed, making her first platelet donation in 1993. When Flo and John learned that they qualified to become pediatric platelet donors, they jumped at the opportunity.
“Sophia is a miracle,” says Grandmother Flo Jedrzejek. And because of that miracle, the Jedrzejeks donate platelets as often as they can—up to the maximum allowed—24 times a year. Together they have given nearly 700 platelet donations.