There is no substitute for blood; it cannot be made, bought or traded for; it can only be donated. Recently, our family, in particular our parents have had to rely on the generosity of many donors and we would like to share our story with you. My name is Jillian Abbott-Dalley and along with my sister, Krista Joy, we lost both our parents within 10 months of each other.
Wayne (Peter), our father, was a retiree from the St. John’s Regional Fire Department and an active member with the Newfoundland and Labrador Basketball Association all his life. However, on May 26th, 2016 our lives were forever changed when he took a pain in his back, and was rushed to the Emergency Department at the Health Sciences Centre (HSC). After a battery of tests it was determined that he was suffering from pancreatitis. Dad was just 62 years old when he lost the battle and throughout his illness he required many blood units and blood products to continue fighting. The first came on a Saturday night which we vividly remember; the gut-wrenching feeling I had as we watched the blood entered his body is one that I will not forget. Immediately his hemoglobin went up and he gained strength. A short while later a second transfusion was required and once again you could see the immediate impact it had. Dad spent 7 long weeks at the HSC; 5 of them in the ICU where he received many more blood transfusions, along with albumin (a product acquired from blood donations) to help his body fight an infection that eventually took over. He passed away on July 31st.
Our mom, Judy Abbott, just 60 years old and a City of St. John’s employee took sick with a heart attack 4 months after our father’s death. Over a 6 month period Mom would undergo a triple bypass and then a heart valve replacement which both required multiple blood products. Complicating this matter was that Mom’s blood type was O+, which unfortunately is in high demand but sadly falls low on supply. The second surgery was going to be more complicated so to give Mom the best fighting chance doctors gave her blood transfusions prior to the procedure. During her surgery required 10 additional units of blood, however the blood alone wasn’t enough and she passed away 3 days later.
Our parents enjoyed spending time with their friends and family. They loved to participate in Card and Dart Clubs and were active members of the church community at St. Patrick’s. They seen their 2 daughters grow up and start their own families and took great pride and enjoyment in spending time with their 5 grandchildren, Hunter, Lauren, Emma, Hudson and Cameron, who they loved beyond words. They were involved in their families’ lives on a daily basis and were the best parents and grandparents any family could dream of having.
We have suffered unimaginable losses, having to say goodbye to both our beloved parents just 10 months and 10 days of each other. These experiences have been and continue to be heartbreaking. We have watched them at their weakest and most vulnerable states. Amidst the sadness, we witnessed the miracle of blood donations and how critical they were in the care given to both our parents. Blood gave us hope in a time of complete despair. At times the blood supply at the Health Sciences was extremely low and along with the terror and anxiety of dealing with sick parents, the worry of inadequate blood supply only added to our stress. This should never be the case.
Our father regularly gave blood and growing up we have memories as very young children accompanying him while he donated. Krista and I both give when we are able (every 84 days for women and 56 day for men) and have become advocates of the significance of donating. There are many people who are not eligible to donate for different reasons but those who are, should make every effort. It not only saves lives but much like my parents it provided them with the necessary strength to keep fighting; sadly in the end the transfusions were simply not enough and someone had a bigger plan for them.
In this fast paced world we live in we often find it difficult and come up with excuses as to why we cannot find the time to give. However what we need to keep in mind is that in a time when anything can be bought, your blood is the one thing that is priceless so please make that effort, it’s worth it. Krista and I just successfully hosted our 2nd annual blood drive in honor of our parent’s and are already looking ahead to next year so keep an eye out for the posters or simply go online and make an appointment today… It is truly in you to give. You never know when you or someone you love will need it!