At 18, Alison Heidle needed a blood transfusion after being seriously injured in a car accident. She learned firsthand how vital a readily available blood supply is. Just two weeks from going to college, Heidle was out having a good time with friends when she was involved in a car crash.
Years later, Heidle remembers feeling like the car was about to roll over, so she jumped out. Unfortunately, the vehicle rolled over her and crushed her abdomen. She recalls kids had to drive out from the field one hour north of Flower Mound to find a house where they could call 911. She was careflighted to Methodist Dallas, where she underwent extensive surgery, received heart compressions and life-saving American Red Cross blood transfusions.
"Giving blood is such a compassionate human thing and a gift," said Heidle, now a Red Cross Biomed account manager. "You can't manufacture it or buy it in a store. You must rely on the goodness of other people. It binds us all together."
Heidle stayed in the ICU, fighting for her life for three months. In total, she received 25 units of blood in one surgery. An impressive amount as the average person has just 10 units of blood in their body, to begin with.
Her community held three blood drives in support of Heidle, collecting more than 300 units of blood. When Heidle was in recovery, her parents shared newspaper articles about the blood drives. She remembers the mayor being quoted how he donated blood for the first time in support.
"It was very uplifting as a patient knowing that we mattered," Heidle said.
After an extensive recovery, Heidle earned her bachelor's degree in neuroscience. In her first job search, she realized she had a story to tell and joined the Red Cross in a recruitment position. Heidle served the Red Cross for five years before starting a family and taking time to get them off to a good start. As the kids reached their preteen years, Heidle knew what she wanted to do. "I'll return to the Red Cross," she said. Heidle was welcomed back in June 2023.
Heidle is now a donor recruit account manager. She cultivates relationships with local schools, churches and businesses to host blood drives or donate blood individually. Heidle and her team provide all the supplies and materials for a successful drive. Blood drive hosts are trained on blood drive information, talking points and promotions. Her goal is to form a relationship with these partners to book a blood program where they can host up to six drives a year.
"From my experience, the main reason people had not donated before was because they had never been asked," said Heidle. "All it takes is asking the question."
Heidle recalls assuming blood was always available as a patient in the hospital, which is only sometimes the case. Not even questioning where it came from. As an O-positive blood type, Heidle did not have time to get tested and was automatically given universal O-negative blood. She shared that she could not express enough how important it is to donate, especially if you are a universal blood type.
"I see the world through a different lens now. I would not have been able to go to college, meet my husband, have a family and get my master's degree without blood donors. Honestly, I would not have made it off the operating table," Heidle shared.
Heidle's story shows the resilience of a fighter who came out on top because of her community and that larger community of blood donors. Sign up to be a blood host or blood donor at RedCrossBlood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).