Story told by Saskia Lindsay
Stephanie Rudolph, from Columbia, South Carolina, lost her father 20 years ago to Sarcoidosis, a rare condition that causes small patches of swollen tissue to develop in the organs of the body. The condition affects the lungs and lymph nodes, and often requires blood transfusions for treatment. Stephanie’s father received three blood transfusions before he passed away.
“After his third blood transfusion, we actually got to spend four more days with him,” said Stephanie. “In that time, because he was able to stay with us, he turned 60 years old. I see that as God’s favor.”
Stephanie says the blood that strangers generously donated enabled her family to spend more precious time with her father before he passed away the day after his 60th birthday. She was so grateful that blood was available when her father needed it. Stephanie has been a regular blood donor ever since. “I know how important this is,” explained Stephanie. “My commitment is to try to help someone in need by donating blood.”
The need for blood is constant. Every two seconds, someone in the United States needs blood. The Red Cross collects, processes and distributes about 40% of the nation’s blood supply. Each day, the Red Cross needs to collect about 12,500 blood donations and nearly 3,000 platelet donations to meet the needs of patients at about 2,500 hospitals and other facilities across the country.
“Another reason I donate is that African Americans have Sickle Cell Anemia. I know that the need is great for my type of blood,” said Stephanie. “I was actually given information on who received my blood,” said Stephanie. “It was a hospital in Alabama, and it was a child who received my blood. I came to tears from that—it was beautiful to me.”
Sickle cell disease is the most common genetic blood disorder in the country, and regular blood transfusions are critical to manage extreme pain and life threatening complications. One in 3 African American blood donors are a match for people with sickle cell disease.
Along with being an African American donor, Stephanie also has type O negative blood. Type O negative is the universal blood type and what emergency room personnel reach for when there is no time to determine the blood type of patients in the most serious situations.
“Don’t be afraid. It's a little prick for lifesaving blood. It’s a wonderful feeling to know that you’ve given,” said Stephanie. “It’s important to be persistent about it. It’s very easy to do. Please know that there is a bigger purpose for what you have.”
Stephanie already has her next blood donation with the Red Cross scheduled, and she encourages others to do the same. To make your appointment to donate lifesaving blood with the Red Cross, go to www.redcrossblood.org.