March is often a time of looking ahead – to the first day of spring, upcoming travel and vacation, or the end of the school year. March is also American Red Cross Month, a great time for eligible blood and platelet donors to schedule an appointment to give. A donation of lifesaving blood or platelets can help patients get back to activities that they enjoy and goals they want to pursue.
A SELFLESS GIFT Maz Rodriguez of Brentwood, Tenn. was just 22 when her life was changed by a serious lung ailment. At age 26, she had a double lung transplant.
“We were all blindsided by my illness because I was never sick before in my life,” said Rodriguez. “I keep in mind that anything can happen when you least expect it, because it happened to me, so the old adage of living life to the fullest is something I wholeheartedly believe in. It was awful being bedridden at 25 with a list of unfulfilled hopes and dreams and I promised myself that I would never let that happen again.”
Rodriguez received both blood and platelet transfusions as part of her treatment. This past January marked four years since Rodriguez’s transplant, and she has no complications. Rodriguez is so grateful for the generous donations that played a role in her recovery.
“Donating blood, and organs for that matter, are the most selfless things anyone can do and it doesn't cost a dime. Every year on January 17, I celebrate the fact that people I will never meet saved my life and wanted nothing in return. So far, that's four extra birthdays, a graduate degree, and a trip of a lifetime, among many other things, that were given to me because of selfless donors.”
ONGOING APPRECIATION, ENDURANCE Today, Rodriguez is living a vibrant, active life.
I’m certainly counting my blessings that my health is as great as it is. Every day I wake up, I remind myself not to take anything for granted,” she said.
In 2015, Rodriguez visited London for her 29th birthday. Upon arrival, she learned that her reservations at a bed and breakfast had been cancelled, and then came down with a bad cold. Yet Rodriguez was undeterred, and considers London her favorite trip.
“The people were incredibly friendly, the food was amazing, and the sights were breathtaking …The history is amazing to view in person, and even though I was sick, everything I’ve been through allowed me to make the visit in the first place, so I couldn’t complain.”
This May, Rodriguez will graduate from Middle Tennessee State University with a master’s degree in media and communications. She is interested in a career that advocates blood and organ donation. Rodriguez interned at the Red Cross last year, valuing the opportunity to connect with blood donors. She intends to make regular appointments to donate blood when cleared by her doctors.
Rodriguez also looks forward to more travel, with Seattle, Portland, and Vancouver at the top of her list – as well as another visit to her beloved London.
SUPPORT PATIENTS THIS SPRING Schedule an appointment to donate blood or platelets using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting redcrossblood.org, or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).
Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental consent in most states), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood or platelets. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.
Eligible donors with types O, A negative and B negative blood are urged to make a Power Red donation, where available. Power Red donors give a concentrated dose of red blood cells during a single donation, allowing them to maximize their impact.
Platelets are constantly in demand. Unlike whole blood, which can be safely donated every 56 days, platelets can be donated every seven days, up to 24 times a year. Platelets must be transfused within five days of donation, so it’s important that eligible platelet donors give as often as possible.