Monday, January 23, 2012

Near & Dear to My Heart

Last week, Emilee’s mom & aunt hosted a Valentine’s Day Paint Party.

I made this cute little something…

Emilee’s cute little something….

The Paint Party gals!

Now to something a little more serious. I don’t normally use this blog as a place for raising awareness to any group / fundraiser / etc. If I like something, I like it. If I don’t, I usually keep my opinions to myself unless asked or try to be careful with the words I do choose to use. Because even though I may not like or support whatever, others do and I respect their opinions and feelings enough to be careful with how I voice my own.

However, I need to share with you a cause that is near and very dear to my heart. Perfect timing too, January is National Blood Donor Month. And, next week we will celebrate my Dad's 62nd birthday. I will still be in Hawaii on his actual birthday and I don't plan on blogging  while on vacation, but one can never tell. So in lieu of a birthday post, this one is most definitely in his honor. 

via Google images

If you have never donated blood and are able to, I beg you to do so. You just have NO clue how your donation can literally save someone’s life.

Case in point…

In the summer of 2008, my dad experienced a sudden onset of what would later be diagnosed as diverticulosis. He was in severe pain and passing a substantial amount of blood. He was rushed to the ER around 6pm and immediately started receiving a blood transfusion. We were told that even though he was being given blood, he was losing even more at a higher rate. His vital signs were dropping significantly. His condition was worsening at an alarming pace. He was moved to ICU. We were told he needed surgery but only under 2 conditions. 1. He would need a scope procedure done first to determine exactly where the bleeding was originating from. They would not open him up for exploratory surgery -  his body would not survive it. 2. His vital signs, primarily blood pressure had to reach a certain a level in order to even do the scope.

So they were continually pushing blood transfusions to replace what he was so quickly losing and different medications through IV’s in order to get his BP up. Early the next morning, he BP finally reached what was beginning to seem like an elusive number. The gastrointestinal doctor on-call came up to the ICU with her staff and performed a colonoscopy in his room. As soon as she was able to find the source of the bleeding (where the pouches of diverticulum had ruptured), they were able to send him down to surgery. Literally within MINUTES, a surgical team was in his room, unplugging wires, machines, etc and pushed his bed out of the room and ran the bed down the hall to the elevators and then downstairs to surgery. It played out like a scene from the tv show ER. We knew it was a risky procedure seeing as how his vitals were just barely at an acceptable level, but we also knew without that surgery, he wouldn’t last much longer.

I have never in my  life seen my father or anyone for that matter in such severe pain. Screaming in pain. The scary part came somewhere around 4am. His vitals were dropping drastically and he was still losing blood. He felt like his time on this earth was limited. My mom and I were in his room and he told her goodbye and told her to tell the girls (me and my sister) goodbye and to “never let Riley forget me.” (Colin hadn’t been born yet.) Tough stuff, right?

In recent years, he has said that he remembers most everything that happened during those 16 crucial hours. He has said that he did feel like he was dying. He says he wasn’t afraid to die, but that he was terrified to leave us all  behind.

The surgery was successful and so many prayers were answered. About a week later, our Dad came home and after several weeks of healing and rest, he returned to his regular lifestyle.

After it was all said and done, he received 14 units of blood. 14. The average human body only holds 10. Meaning every single drop of blood in his body was lost and replaced and then some.

I say all of that, to say this….

Had it not been for 14 strangers who decided to give blood for whatever reasons they did, my dad would not be here with us today. It’s as simple as that. Before all of this happened, my stance on giving blood was something like this, “Yeah, I guess I could. BUT, I just don’t have time to today.” or “I’ve never really thought about it, I guess I could someday.” It was never a flat out, no I would never give blood. I just didn’t see the importance in it. Until the summer of 2008.

Ever since, I have given blood as often as I have been able to. I am not trying to toot my own horn, but merely hoping that what little I can say would help encourage someone else to give. Sparing 20 minutes of your day can save as many as 3 people’s lives! It is estimated about 44,000 units of donated blood are used every day! And there’s a 95% chance, you stand a chance of needing a blood transfusion by age 72. Is it sinking now how important your donation is needed?

I give locally through Blood Assurance. Click here to read more about this non-for-profit organization that serves more than 50 health care facilities in Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama and North Carolina. However, there are many other organizations you can go through. Check out the American Red Cross’s website here, to find a blood drive in your area.

I don’t know whose blood my dad received and quite honestly, I don’t care. What I do care about and will be forever thankful for is that 14 donors decided to do it. If I could hug their necks, I would. I often thank God for them and their decision to give. My continued prayer is that as long as I am able, I will give. And that perhaps, anything that I can say or the example that I set will encourage someone else to make the decision to give. You CAN save someone’s life.

January is National Blood Donor Month, make the best of it and save someone’s life today.

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