Rhiannon Costanzo has heard the story of her birth countless times. It is a nerve-wracking, memorable and heroic tale. It is also the story that inspired her to become an American Red Cross blood donor and volunteer in honor of the people who saved her life the day she was born.
Seventeen years ago, on Jan. 31, 2006, Costanzo’s mom gave birth in an emergency C-section and faced a severe blood incompatibility with baby Rhiannon.
“I have B+ blood and she has B-, so her body was basically rejecting me,” Costanzo said.
To make matters worse, the hospital they were at in Scranton, Pennsylvania was out of blood. The nearest available blood supply was in Albany, New York – a four-hour drive away in the winter snow.
“We were completely relying on the Red Cross, and they definitely delivered.”
“So, they got an amazing Red Cross volunteer, put him in a taxi, gave him this special infant blood mixture, and he went to the hospital and dropped the blood off in the middle of an ice storm,” Costanzo said. “We were completely relying on the Red Cross, and they definitely delivered.”
“If it wasn’t for that volunteer spending his entire night riding to Albany and back, I wouldn’t be here today,” Costanzo said. “He dropped it off and was gone just like that. I really wish I knew who he was, so I could say thank you.”
Costanzo said she always wanted to donate blood with the Red Cross in honor of that miraculous volunteer and the person who donated the blood that saved her life. When she turned 16, she donated her first unit of blood at Commonwealth Health Moses Taylor Hospital where she was born.
“It’s been really amazing,” Costanzo said. “I’m so happy that I get to give back in that way."
Now, a senior in high school, Costanzo is a Red Cross Blood Donor Ambassador. She volunteers at blood drives to ensure donors have a pleasant and fulfilling experience from the moment they arrive to the moment they leave.
“It’s been really amazing,” Costanzo said. “I’m so happy that I get to give back in that way, and it’s great to meet donors who are so selfless.” Costanzo hopes her story helps people realize the importance of blood donation.
“You can save a life by only taking an hour out of your day and donating blood,” Costanzo said. “I’m grateful someone took a few minutes out of their life to donate for me. It’s very special.”