For World Blood Donation Day, June 14, 2019.
As a child, I would accompany my father to the local hotel when the mobile blood transfusion service would visit Donegal. A pelican always sat in the lapel of his jacket, named for Pelican house, the old Blood transfusion HQ located on Mespil Road. I associated giving blood with free red pencils and piled plates of biscuits alongside the bottles of Guinness provided to donors before they drove the rural roads home. They were different times. I never thought about those childhood memories until sitting in St. Johns ward at our Lady’s hospital Crumlin with my daughter who was about the same age that I been when I accompanied my Dad some 30 years earlier.
It was a September Monday morning when my GP rang to advise the results of my daughter’s blood test taken that day and that they were a cause of serious concern. I knew it wasn’t good when the doctor said there was a team already waiting for us in Crumlin Hospital. After a grim few hours, cancer was diagnosed, and she received the first of many units of blood followed by platelets. Leukaemia is a cancer of blood and bone marrow and is the most common childhood cancer in Ireland. The treatment of blood cancer involves many elements, some quite devastating in their effects. Chemotherapy, lumbar punctures and high doses of steroids are hard on the bodies of little people and on the minds of those who love them. The impact of both leukaemia and the treatment results in severe anaemia and platelet deficiency. Without blood transfusions, these small people with big problems would not survive. I was and remain grateful beyond words to the kindness of strangers who gave their lifeblood, time and time again to my daughter and all the others. They saved her. A small line inserted beside her large heart remained in place for a few years and bags of blood and platelets were attached when needed, usually without warning. The impact was almost instantaneous, wheelchair or a piggyback into the ward and racing down the corridor on the way out. The fatigue would lift, her colour return as the blood of a stranger repaired, replenished, and revived her body and my spirit. Today she is cancer free, a teenager with a full and long life to live well.
To all the strangers in donating in hotels, in the clinic in D’Olier Street, in the community centres from Dingle to Donegal, with all my heart, thank you.
Please consider giving blood to help those in need like Rosie’s family.
Ireland – https://www.giveblood.ie/