On Saturday April 26, a Community Blood Drive will be part of the Empty Bowls Event. “Blood Drive” – it’s a two-word title, but it carries tremendous importance. Allow me to share a personal story that will, hopefully, encourage you to donate your own blood this weekend.
In 1984, when our daughter was 3 years old, I took her to the pediatrician because she had an eye infection. As part of his exam, he placed a stethoscope on her chest, a routine that we have all seen doctors perform many times. This time, however, he seemed to listen just a fraction of a moment too long…..then he listened again……then the look of concentration on his face became more intent as the feeling of panic began to grow in me.
Thus began a life-changing experience for our family, which resulted in our daughter being diagnosed with a congenital heart defect and ultimately having open-heart surgery at the tender age of 4. It was unimaginable to us that a team of surgeons would be cutting open her chest, stopping her heart while her blood ran through a “heart-lung pump,” cutting open her tiny heart to repair a defect deep within, then reversing all these steps and finally closing her skin with sutures. It was incredible to us that strangers would give blood to maintain her life during the surgery. In the months leading up to the operation, my husband Tony and I agonized over how her little body could survive this onslaught, much less go on to lead a long and healthy life. And we asked ourselves how we could possibly survive if she did not.
Among the many drugs that had to be administered before, during, and after this long procedure, blood was the most essential as well as the most difficult to procure. Human blood cannot be manufactured in a laboratory; its availability to those in need is completely dependent upon the generosity of people who choose to donate. Of the myriad people who worked to save our daughter’s life, those spectacularly munificent individuals whose blood was on standby for our baby are at the top of my list of heroes.
Please consider donating blood this Saturday at the Empty Bowls Event. If you have given in the past, you know how streamlined the entire process is. If you will be a first-time donor, you will see that after registering, completing a questionnaire, and having a mini-physical, the actual donation will take less than ten minutes. . Other than the initial, brief sting of the needle, blood donation is not painful. The process is safe and the materials used are sterile. You will be on your way to the rest of your day in no time, and your blood will be on its way to saving the life of someone’s baby, wife, husband, mother, or father.
Many of you reading this blog have never faced an urgent need for blood. Perhaps you could think of your donation this week as a show of thanks for your current good health. Some day, should you or a loved one need blood replacement, you can hope that someone whose name you won’t know will have taken a few minutes to donate the precious, life-saving liquid.
And what became of our little girl? She came through the surgery with flying colors in 1985. You very likely know her – she is Ronnie Loving Lohan, Second Grade Head Teacher at All Saints. She is Jim Lohan’s wife, and the mother of Delia Anne, who is in the afternoon Nursery class at ASEDS. In July, James Declan will join the family. She is the loving owner of two beautiful dogs, Nikki and Jake. There are many titles that can be attributed to our beloved Ronnie – wife, mother, daughter, granddaughter, and friend. You might have seen her run in the 5-K race earlier this month, helping to raise funds for rebuilding Hoboken. On Sundays you can find her teaching Sunday school at All Saints. She leads an active and fulfilling life. If eight selfless people had not given blood for her 28 years ago this month, none of these things would have been possible. She has a perfect mended heart, and that is not a contradiction.
For Tony and me, Ronnie was born twice: once when she entered the world and cried out in the delivery room, and again when she came out of the operating room four years later and her first words were “Mommy, hold me!”
Please, give blood on Saturday so someone else’s life can be saved.
Anne LaGrange Loving