Monday, November 23, 2015

Give Thanks by Giving Back: Donate Blood

This holiday season, the American Red Cross urges individuals to give something that means something – a blood or platelet donation. This simple, potentially lifesaving act can give patients in need another holiday season with loved ones. 

Blood donations can decline during the holidays, including Thanksgiving, because people are busier and may not always have time to donate. But patients don’t get a break from needing blood.

Blood donors with all types, especially O negative, B negative and A negative, are urged to give. Platelet donors and those with type AB blood are also continually needed. 

To encourage donations around Thanksgiving, those who come to give blood or platelets from Nov. 25-29 will receive a limited-edition Red Cross mixing spoon with recipes from celebrity chefs John Besh, Richard Blais, Rocco DiSpirito, Mike Isabella, Ellie Krieger and Ali Larter, while supplies last.

Patients like Tymia McCullough of Georgetown, S.C. depend upon blood donors. The bubbly 9-year-old has sickle cell anemia, a blood disorder that causes red blood cells to become abnormally shaped. Sickle cells die early, which causes a constant shortage of red blood cells. The misshapen cells can get stuck when traveling through small blood vessels, causing pain or other serious problems. 

As a result of sickle cell anemia, Tymia has been hospitalized 35 times, received 31 blood transfusions and had a spleenectomy. Despite her frequent hospital visits, she works hard to be an amazing big sister to her younger siblings and keep up with any school work she misses. Her hard work has paid off: She’s an honor roll student. 

Tymia shows persistence in many ways. She was hospitalized just three weeks before the Miss South Carolina Jr. Pre-Teen pageant, but she persevered and began rehearsing right away after she was released. When she received the Miss South Carolina crown, she burst into tears. “It was the first time I've ever cried out, not because of the pain I was in, but because I achieved something I worked so hard for.”

Without the generosity of blood donors, Tymia would not be the strong 9-year-old she is today. Her goal is to inspire other people with her story: "I want to show other kids that no matter what life throws at you, you can achieve anything with hard work, dedication and a smile."

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