“Sometimes, giving gifts is a blessing, but receiving something your body can’t make is life changing,” said Kelly Ellison. During the holiday season when many are giving gifts, Kelly and her son Thor are thankful for the gift of life, as they both needed blood and platelets.
“In 2013, I was pregnant with Thor and right away I was really sick,” said Kelly. By 28 weeks into her pregnancy, she had been admitted into the ICU.
“The doctors diagnosed me with a disease called severe Aplastic Anemia where the bone marrow in my body was not making enough blood lines to sustain my life or the life of my son,” said Kelly. “I remained in the hospital until I was able to deliver Thor. In order to sustain our pregnancy until 33 weeks, I was a frequent recipient of blood and platelets.”
In fact, Kelly received 43 blood and platelet transfusions in total. But the family quickly realized that Kelly was not the only one who would need help.
“When Thor was born, we could quicky tell that he was going to need blood and platelets because his blood levels matched mine,” Kelly said. “Thankfully, there were American Red Cross blood and platelet donors and he began to thrive. It was such a beautiful picture to me of someone giving of their life so that my son’s life could start creating on its own.”
Today, the younger brother to two older sisters, Thor loves riding his new red bike, playing board games with his mom, or playing in the pool with his family.
“We are so touched and so thankful because we can’t donate, but we get to receive,” Kelly said. “It sounds cliché to say that there is not a day that goes by that I am not thankful, but it is the truth. Every day, in some way, I see my son and know that he is a miracle and I get to be a mother to our whole family.”
Every day, Red Cross blood donors have an opportunity to give with meaning to help patients in need, and the loved ones rallying behind them as they battle serious medical conditions. This year, many individuals are counting on strangers to help care for their loved ones during the most vulnerable of times—while they’re in a hospital and undergoing medical procedures.
“We are here to tell our story and encourage people to add value to other people’s lives by donating blood,” said Kelly. “There is no way to describe the impact that the Red Cross has had on our lives, but it will continue to be limitless.”
Eligible individuals are urged to make an appointment to donate now using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).
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 in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), 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.
Donors can also save up to 15 minutes by completing a RapidPass. With RapidPass, donors complete the pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online on the day of donation from a mobile device or computer. To complete a RapidPass, follow the instructions at RedCrossBlood.org/rapidpass or use the Red Cross Blood Donor app.