Short blog from me after a conversation with my mum. On Tuesday this week my Dad had a blood transfusion. Dad has cholangiocarcinoma, or bile duct cancer, and despite being generally healthy he had started to get breathless, become very pale, and lost energy. At his most recent consultant’s appointment we found out that he was anaemic and by the time he got the transfusion on Tuesday his haemoglobin level was down to 8, which essentially means that his red blood cell count was dropping.
Photo by cogdogblog on flickr (cc)
Having a transfusion isn’t that unusual in people who are undergoing chemotherapy (not that Dad is) or who have cancer. You can read more on the Macmillan site here. He said the whole process was completely painless, and only took six hours, during which time he was able to eat, drink, watch TV, read his book and so on. My mum was reflecting on the process the day after and had been really struck by what a gift it is, to receive someone else’s blood. Her exact comment is the title of this blog post:
It’s only when you need it that you realise what a gift it is.
I used to give blood as a student and when I worked in a university, because it was easy and only involved popping in when a donation session was happening. I’m struck by how lazy my approach to donation has been though and will be seeking out the next local donation session and getting myself down there, after all I don’t have much use for my spare blood….and most remarkably my Dad has already felt a huge benefit, he has even had warm hands and feet for the first time since he had a major operation 3.5 years ago. It could of course be complete coincidence, but I doubt it.
So next time you give blood please accept my thanks, it’s people like you who are keeping my Dad alive. That is something fairly awesome. If you don’t give blood maybe you’d consider it – check out the NHS Blood and Transfusion Service in the UK or the American Red Cross if you’re elsewhere.
If you’re feeling all manner of generous perhaps you’d also consider donating bone marrow. A good friend, Betty, donated her bone marrow this week and I my sense of admiration is so immense I can’t really describe it. I’m sure we’d all like to think we’d do the same, but to do so you need to give blood, join the register, and then undergo surgery. She is now recovering and will be 100% fit soon. I only hope that the person who received it recovers as well, the odds were narrow, but I hope that Betty’s gift affords them a new chance, like Dad’s transfusion did this week.
To the blood and bone marrow donors of the world – please accept my gratitude and thanks. You are all awesome.