You Just Never Know
By Michael Waite
Director, Marketing & Community Relations
Fourteen years ago Amy Blackthorn was on her way home, never thinking she’d end up in a life-threatening situation, but that’s exactly what occurred.
A driver headed in the opposite direction had fallen asleep at the wheel and hit Amy’s car head on. It took emergency responders over 45 minutes, using the Jaws of Life to cut her out of her vehicle. Once freed, she was immediately airlifted to Christiana Hospital where she underwent over ten hours of surgery in a battle to save her life. Unfortunately, that was only the beginning, as there would be multiple subsequent surgeries to follow for this likeable young woman whose home became a hospital bed from October through January of the next year.
During that initial surgery, multiple units of blood were transfused to Amy to keep her alive. All of that blood was donated by strangers through the Blood Bank of Delmarva.
Doctors predicted Amy would never walk again as a result of her injuries, yet Amy’s determination, courage and care under the watchful eyes of her team of physicians and therapists led to a full recovery. That incident also led to a revelation for Amy. If strangers took the time out of their busy days to donate blood to save her life, she could do the same. But with her extensive injuries and recuperation ahead of her it would be a long time before Amy would be donating anything, let alone her own blood. So, she encouraged family members and friends to begin donating right away and as soon as her doctors gave her the green light, Amy joined those she had encouraged to give in the donor center. That was in 2003 and she’s been donating every 56 days since then to show her appreciation for those who helped save her life.
As Amy says, “Saying thank you isn’t enough.” And like clockwork, the moment she’s eligible to donate again, she’s back. “You get to catch up with friends and watch TV. It’s relaxing and you feel amazing after you donate!”
She’s also made it her mission to encourage other members of the community to join her and believes each donation has a huge impact. “You become a hero to that patient, their friends, and family members.”
Unfortunately situations like this happen too often, which is why every day of the year Blood Bank of Delmarva must have an adequate amount of blood on the shelves to help save local lives. It’s easy to say “this would never happen to me”, but none of us know what the future will bring. That’s why it‘s absolutely critical that we at Blood Bank of Delmarva are always prepared to meet the needs of the hospitals in the Delmarva region. And being prepared means having enough blood on our shelves and the shelves of our hospital partners so that we’re always ready for any emergency or situation that develops.
Being prepared means making sure that members of our community realize the critical role they play in making sure that the blood supply is plentiful enough to meet the demands. That’s why it’s so important for those who have the ability to donate to strongly consider doing so. The unselfish acts of a group of strangers 14 years ago saved Amy’s life and the same thing happens today, time and again. 20,000 patients a year in the Delmarva region rely on the lifesaving effects of the blood collected right here at home.
So how do you go about helping to save a life? The first thing you need to do is find out if you’re eligible to donate. Close to 65% of the United States population is not, which is why it’s vitally important that the other 35% who are able, do so. There are a list of requirements and restrictions on our website at DelmarvaBlood.org . . . you can start to help by going there to learn if you can become a lifesaver.
If you discover that you fit the requirements of a blood donor, the next thing you need to do is make an appointment and that’s as easy as calling 888 8-BLOOD-8 or setting one up online at DelmarvaBlood.org. There’s also a mobile app for your convenience. Our friendly, highly trained staff will take you through every step of the donation procedure to make your experience as pleasant and efficient as possible.
As Amy can attest to, you’ll never gift a gift more meaningful than the gift of life.
Michael Waite, former on-air radio personality at WJBR, is the Director of Marketing & Community Relations for Blood Bank of Delmarva, a position he has held since February 2011. Michael is the organization’s primary media spokesperson and collaborates with executive management on strategic initiatives to improve organizational performance. He also manages community relations and leads the Blood Bank’s fundraising efforts. He is a past President and current member of the Board of Directors of the Ronald McDonald House of Delaware, a member of the Delaware State Chamber’s Board of Governors, a 2011 recipient of the Governors Award for Volunteerism and a University of Delaware HRIM Renaissance Award winner.
Be Someone’s Hero. Give Blood.
DelmarvaBlood.org 1 888 8-BLOOD-8
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Headshot by Mike Baker of CM Photography