One day, a stranger saved my life. Actually, it was probably more than one stranger and it probably happened over a series of days. And the actual day my life was saved was a different day altogether.
It happened way back in 1996 after I was diagnosed with idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura when I had a platelet transfusion. The transfusion was part of the preparation process for my splenectomy and was deemed necessary as my platelet counts were lingering around 20K, despite taking steroids to increase my numbers.
At some point before that day, random people had gone to donate blood. They did so not knowing who I was, or even if their blood would ever find its way to the vessels of another person. They did so for reasons unknown to me. But the fact is that they did so.
OK, I may have survived the operation without the transfusion – in which case you could argue that those strangers didn’t save my life – but the point is that they might have. All because they gave blood. They gave blood to a stranger and they didn’t ask for anything in return.
As for me, after my ITP diagnosis my own blood donating days ended and that made me sad because I had always given blood in the hopes that, by doing so, I would make a difference in someone’s life. When this was no longer the case I cried and cried, then my wonderful sister-by-unofficial-adoption stepped up to the plate – with her fear of needles – to give in my place. She really just wanted to make me stop crying, but is now a regular donor and is even on the National Marrow Registry. She’s even been a kidney donor.
It amazes me to know that the simple act of giving blood – a relatively painless procedure for which you are often rewarded with juice and cookies – can save lives. What amazes me even more, however, is that so few people regularly donate. But I’m sure that we can change that.
A stranger saved my life once. Could you be the stranger in someone else’s life-saving story?
Of course, organ donation is also important, and something I urge everyone to consider. As polycystic kidney disease runs in my family, organ donation has saved the life of one of my uncles, an aunt, and my Mommy. One of my sisters will need a kidney transplant soon, and I expect that, eventually, I will, too.
But because I don’t want organ donation to be “just” a footnote, I will tackle that topic later. In the meantime, you can always look up some country-specific information on the topic for Scotland, England and Wales, the USA, and Canada.