The story of Jane's life revolves around a bag she received in the summer of 2015.
The bag was so important to her that Jane actually took a photograph of it. The picture has since become a favorite of hers and one she is happy to show to both friends and strangers a like. It is arguably the most important picture she has ever snapped.
It was the contents inside the bag, of course, that mattered so dearly to Jane. Inside that bag was a unit of type A+ blood. It was the seventh pint of blood Jane had received in a span of three days to help her recover from an illness in which her bone marrow stopped producing red blood cells.
Although the previous six units of blood Jane received at the Alexian Brothers Medical Center were no different than No. 7, the last transfusion is the one she will always remember. Jane’s hemoglobin levels had dropped below 7 and as a result she had been unconscious when receiving the other units.
“When the nurse came in with the unit of blood I asked her if she could bring it over to me so I could take a look at it,” Jane said. “Of course there is no identification other than a number on the bag but I wondered who that person was that donated. Were they young or old, did they have a family and did they realize their act of giving blood was truly responsible for saving someone’s life.”
The 57-year-old from Ingleside will never know the answers, but she certainly is aware of the importance of donating blood.
“I know blood donations saved my life,” she said. “I know I wouldn’t be here today if people didn’t donate blood.”
Realizing the impact blood donation played in her life, Jane wanted to find a way to help others who may be in need of a transfusion. Her time working as a medical technologist taught her just how valuable blood donations are and how blood cannot be manufactured — it must be donated by a person.
An active member of Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, Jane suggested the worship center host a blood drive and invite the entire community.
“We used to have blood drives [at the church] but stopped about eight years ago,” Jane said. “At our church we always talk about being better neighbors. Well, I don’t think you can be a much better neighbor than by giving the gift of life.”
Jane worked with Vitalant to organize the drive and selected the date — Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018 — knowing winter can be a time when blood shortages occur.
“Unfortunately, this is the time of year when donations can be at their lowest,” she said. “People don’t really think about giving blood or holding a drive in this type of weather, but I know that a situation when blood might be needed can happen 365 days a year.”
Not only does Jane know this from her illness in 2015 but also from a situation 31 years earlier. In 1987 Jane was preparing for a surgery and had four of her friends make a directed donation of blood for her to use in her recovery.
Two of those friends were making their first donation back in 1987 and Jane said all are now regular donors.
For those who may be on the fence about giving a pint, Jane had a simple suggestion — donate!
“Donating doesn’t hurt or make you ill and the staff will make you feel like a king or a queen,” she said. “I think a lot people think the next person is donating or that blood can somehow be multiplied but that isn’t the case. Every healthy adult should be donating as often as they can.