I started donating blood in high school at the age of 16 as a thank you for a unit of blood that my brother received. It was my first 'pay it forward' donation. My younger brother received a transfusion in the early 1980's after surgery. This procedure was necessary but did cause some stress for my family in the 1990's when more information regarding blood borne illnesses became apparent. When I was expecting my daughter, I developed placenta previa and was hospitalized in the antenatal unit at St. Joseph's Hospital in London for eight weeks. Each week, two units of blood were cross-matched to me as a precaution. Thankfully I never required that blood and was always assured it went to someone in need.
Last fall, my younger sister developed a rare form of blood cancer. Her bone marrow is no longer able to produce adequate red blood cells. A bone marrow transplant is most likely in her future. Until then all I can do as a big sister is donate blood as she needs one unit each week. We don't reside in the geographical area and being diagnosed with a serious illness during a pandemic makes supporting her and her family very challenging . I only wish I could give more often than every 81 days. As a big sister you want to protect your siblings even when you are an adult, I wish I could do more but donating blood makes me feel involved in her life. Her need will be ongoing, and I will continue to fight for her one donation at a time. Hers is the face I see when I donate!