Here's my story that ran in a local paper:
It's everyone’s worst nightmare to get that dreaded phone call in the middle of the night, telling you that someone in your family is hurt, sick or even worse. In 2006, Jill Snow’s family received that call after her husband, Michael, found her semi-unconscious on her couch.
Jill understands the importance of blood, as it saved her life three times in one week. “When I think of someone needing blood, I didn't think of a healthy, young, active woman,” she says. “But it can happen to anyone.”
Jill is a multiple blood recipient from the Canadian Blood Services. In May 2006, she contracted what she originally thought was the flu. After two weeks in a drug-induced coma, two blood transfusions, five bags of blood plasma products (requiring 1,000 donors) and surgery to remove a portion of her lung, Jill learned she had double-pneumonia — which turned nearly fatal with the onset of septicaemia (toxic shock).
Before she became ill, Jill lived a normal, busy life, which, as it turns out, was a factor in lowering her immune system. “I was working long hours while at the same time, not focusing on proper nutrition, exercise or sufficient sleeping habits. I started noticing flu-like symptoms and felt run-down the majority of the time,” she says. “I was not listening to my body as well as I should have.”
After several doctors’ visits and two to three weeks of persistent symptoms that were not improving, Michael became concerned about Jill’s failing health. “I went over to check on her one evening to find her semi-unconscious on her couch, and noticed that her extremities were blue,” he remembers.
Michael called 911, and before long family and friends trickled in from out of town, praying that Jill, who was now in a coma on life support, would survive this horrible nightmare — doctors gave her less than a 50 per cent chance of survival.
Every day, another complication threatened her life and eventually, she developed Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome, which resulted in tiny blood clots effectively damaging her heart, lungs and kidneys. In addition to the antibiotics and other drugs she was prescribed, Jill was given Activated Protein C (a plasma blood product), provided to hospitals by Canadian Blood Services. This blood product kept Jill alive for the entire week.
During this time, Jill was neither improving nor worsening, so doctors decided to remove a portion of her lung, but her hemoglobin count became so depleted she could not be stabilized for surgery. As such, Jill received two blood transfusions and within days, she was taken off life support and came out of her coma. There is no doubt the blood and blood products she received allowed her to have the surgery she desperately needed to survive.
Jill and Michael now regularly volunteer for the Canadian Blood Services as spokespeople for various television, radio and special events to raise awareness of the importance of donating blood. Michael also regularly donates blood and based on her contribution, Jill was selected to represent the Atlantic Canada Canadian Blood Services volunteers at a national ceremony in 2009.
Until she became ill, Jill and her family did not realize the impact blood donation can have on someone’s life and how many people it can actually affect. The Snows now know first-hand the importance of blood donations and the generosity of blood donors. Not only did they save her life, but they gave her a new life, and she takes every opportunity to educate others about the importance of blood donations.
“You can be told about the importance of blood donation, but until you are in a situation where you or someone in your family needs blood to survive, only then will you truly understand the need for blood,” Jill says.
Over half of Canadians know a family member or friend who has needed blood products. It could be someone you know who needs blood next, and the best way to help is to ensure blood will be on hand to save his or her life. To get more information on how to become a blood donor or volunteer your time, please visit blood.ca.