If you have never given blood, you don’t know the gift you may have given someone. Here is Daniels story.
Three years ago, weeks before Christmas, my friends young son, Daniel, was diagnosed with Leukemia, at the barely begun life age of thirteen. We were all shattered. A few weeks later, still reeling, we heard his only hope for life was a bone marrow transplant. All of us who knew Daniel, and many who barely knew him, asked about becoming a donor. It was explained to us that that was not how it was done and we were urged to go on the register. As it turned out Daniel got a perfect match not from siblings or friends, but from a young, generous hearted college student, living in the United States. A stranger. Why she became a donor we will never know, but we will be forever grateful to her. Her bone marrow was a fantastic match, but sadly infection killed Daniel a few months later.
In order to fight for life, for many months Daniel required hundreds of blood and platelet donations. I became more aware of not missing the three month deadline between my own donations. In the days after I’d given blood, Danny would wonder if mine or our friends, was the blood he was receiving. At a time when we could do nothing for him, it helped to know we were making a difference to someone’s life. If not Daniels maybe a sick baby, a young teenager, a mother, father or loved grandparent?
I remember so clearly the day we heard Daniel was to be allowed come home. He was desperately ill, having been on a ventilator the week previous. All he wanted, after months of being nearly 200 km from his siblings, was to go home. We held our breaths, waiting through the night, hoping he’d still be well enough the next morning to make the journey by ambulance. The relief when we got the text, ‘We are on our way,’ was something I can never quite describe. To be so filled with joy and yet heartbroken, all in the same moment, hardly feels possible, but it is.
As Daniel was wheeled in the door of his home, the smile on his face and that of his family was priceless. This was a gift they didn’t expect. A week previous it looked like Daniel would be denied his greatest wish, but it had been granted. There were many people to thank for getting him home, the team in Crumlin hospital, the ambulance service, the Mercy hospital oncology nurses, all being the obvious ones, but there was a number of others who we will never know.
They were the men and women who donated their blood and platelets to Daniel in order to get him home. We knew those donations in the day prior to him coming home would keep him alive for a number of days. Those donors left their lives that day to take time out to give blood or platelets, having no clue who was going to get it. They would never find out the difference they made to a young boy who had lived through hell, nor to his family, who got to spend three precious days as a complete family once more, in their own home.
As I give blood I always wonder as to who will receive my donation. I know the difference blood donation makes. Now that you do, will you please consider taking the time to donate, or at least think about it?
I wrote this for World Blood Donor Day, which was yesterday, June 14th. Even if only one reader donates as a result I’ll be happy.