By Dana Simmons, American Red Cross
In 2006, Paul McQuigg was in Iraq on his second combat deployment when he was hit by an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) blast. Paul suffered many injuries from the blast including a shattered jaw, losing 60 percent of his tongue, a traumatic brain injury (TBI), extensive nerve damage, impaired vision in his right eye and severe blood loss.
After the accident, Paul was medically evacuated to a hospital in Iraq, where he received six units of lifesaving blood and other medical care. When reflecting on the incident, Paul confidently says, "I would rather have it happen to me than one of the Marines that was with me at the time."
The injuries Paul sustained have left him on a brave, lifelong journey to recovery. In 2007, just a short time after his accident, Paul stopped counting the number of surgeries he was undergoing because the count was at 100 procedures. Two of the surgeries Paul underwent in 2007 and 2012 also required at least two more lifesaving blood transfusions.
As a retired Marine and a San Diego County resident, Paul has not let his injuries stop his service. From working at the Camp Pendleton Naval Hospital as a Marine Liaison, teaching injured veterans how to scuba dive and donating lifesaving blood, he has given back to the community in many ways. While giving back, he has not forgotten about people’s selfless and lifesaving blood donations. He says, "If people hadn’t donated for me, my friends in the military or people that I meet every day, the outcome of our injuries would be a lot worse.”
Paul's first few blood donations were completed at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton. He recalls that when he worked there, the American Red Cross and other local blood banks visited the base with bloodmobiles, which made donating on the base very convenient. He has donated his type O positive blood—which is always in demand and needed for trauma care—around 12 times and recently added another donation to the books this past week.
Paul has a special message for those that are thinking about donating blood, “Go ahead and donate. You can save a life! You can read books, watch TV, pump your arm and get snacks after. It’s such a minor way to volunteer and an anonymous way of giving back.”
The American Red Cross must collect enough blood every day to meet the needs of accident and burn victims, heart surgery and organ transplant patients, and those receiving treatment for leukemia, cancer or sickle cell disease. To make an appointment to donate blood or to learn more, download the American Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit RedCrossBlood.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or enable the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device.