In the picturesque mountains of Colorado, I live a life I cherish. I'm a mother of two wonderful adults, a proud “Glamma” to my beautiful twin grandsons, a sister, coach, military veteran, blood transfusion recipient, blood donor and ambassador, and life survivor.
I found my way to this stunning state through the Air Force, working at Space Command on Buckley Air Force Base. If I were there today, I'd say I work in the Space Force. I previously spent two years stationed in Bremerhaven, Germany, where I got married and had my daughter. She used to love telling people she was born in Germany; it was her "two-truths-and-a-lie story."
Life took an unexpected turn when I contracted a debilitating infection that brought me dangerously close to losing my right leg and my life. Fortunately, I emerged from that battle, my leg intact, though with some limitations. This life-altering experience taught me the importance of resilience and pushing beyond our perceived limits, leading me to pursue a master's degree and created a desire to give back through coaching, leadership development, and volunteer work.
My journey took another twist when a common surgical procedure took an unexpected turn, and I found myself in need of a blood transfusion to save my life. This lifesaving measure was so unexpected that even my friend didn't believe me when I told him; I had to ask the nurse to speak to him on the phone to confirm the urgency of the situation. In that critical moment, I realized how essential even one unit of blood could be.
If I had the chance to meet the individuals who donated the blood that saved my life, I would want to hug them. I would share pictures of my family and me on our hiking adventures and make sure they know they are angels on Earth. Donating blood truly is a gift of life, and it's a gift that keeps on giving.
When it came time for me to give back and donate blood, I was eager and ready. But my hopes were dashed when I learned that, due to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) restrictions related to my time stationed in Germany, I was unable to donate. It was a heart-wrenching moment. I couldn't fathom not being able to give back in the way others had given to support me in my time of need. However, I signed up to be a Vitalant Ambassador to help spread the message about the importance of blood donations.
Earlier this year, I received a call informing me that due to updated regulations from the FDA which removed the deferral for those who lived and traveled in Europe, I was now eligible to donate blood. I couldn't believe it at first, but I was ecstatic to learn I could give back! It felt so great to give a blood transfusion that would go on to save a life.
We often don't realize just how important a blood donation is until we, or someone we love, needs it. My life today, filled with joy as I experience being grandmother to twin boys, is possible because someone donated the gift of life.
Donating blood may take some planning, but organizations like Vitalant make it easy. You can set up an appointment on their website or simply give them a call, and their excellent customer service team will guide you through the process.
Most people are eligible to donate blood, but less than 3% give annually. If you’re like me and were previously told you weren’t eligible to donate, recent FDA changes to eligibility guidelines may mean you’re eligible now. I encourage you to head to Vitalant’s eligibility page to review current guidelines to help determine if you’re now able to give blood.