By J. D. Brink, American Red Cross volunteer
Everyone has their own reasons for donating blood with the American Red Cross. Some are inspired by family members, donating to follow in their generous footsteps. Others are charitable by nature. What could be more charitable than giving the gift of life? And former recipients of transfusions sometimes see it as a means of giving back, returning a past favor when they themselves or someone they love were in critical need.
For Candy Sendelbach of East Toledo, it’s a combination of all three.
“My husband was diagnosed over a year ago with a very rare blood disease,” she said. “Greg is the love of my life. Funny, creative and loves helping others. Someone donates blood so he can have regular transfusions that allow him to still be active in spite of his disease. I choose to pass that gift to someone who is in need.”
Greg has PNH. Paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH) is a disorder that leads to the premature destruction and impaired production of blood cells. Red blood cells carry oxygen in the body. White blood cells fight infections. And platelets clot the blood to stop bleeding. All three are affected by PNH. The long, complicated name is derived from the visually shocking results patients may find first thing in the morning, when their urine is colored with dead blood cells.
“Bone marrow transplant is the cure,” Sendelbach explained, “but he would not survive it, so he gets medication infused every two months. Unfortunately, the meds aren’t working well so he is receiving blood transfusions every four to six weeks now. While my blood isn’t compatible, I donate so someone else can have a chance at a better life. We are grateful for the donor who helps us and believe God wants us to bless others.”
Sendelbach said that she sometimes donates whole blood but usually gives platelets. “That way I can give more often. And I know they’re going directly to cancer patients.”
Whole blood can be given every eight weeks, up to six times a year. Power Red donations (concentrated red blood cells) can be given every 16 weeks. But platelet donors may give every seven days, up to 24 times a year.
Toledo’s Executive Parkway location is her blood donation center of choice. A whiteboard on the wall lists where the day’s donations are going. Sendelbach listed cancer patients and a car accident victim as examples she’s seen.
“The people are phenomenal and great to work with,” she added. “Knowing where your blood is going keeps you motivated to give again and again. It’s easy, very little pain and the reward far outweighs any inconvenience.”
To find out if you are eligible to donate blood, visit this page. Ready to give blood to give someone the gift of life? Then find a blood drive near you HERE.
Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer
Posted by Ryan Lang, American Red Cross board member and volunteer