Written by Erin Santos, Isabella’s Mom
I get it. It’s not a fun thing to do. You may drive all the way to the center and get turned away. It’s cold in there. It may take them a couple of tries to find a good vein. You are worried you might pass out. It might be uncomfortable for a while. It’s boring. It may take a little longer than you want it to. I know all these things that go through your head, because they go through mine too.
You would think after our family’s experience, I would be giving blood every chance I could. But, like you all – I get busy or some of these excuses start ringing in my head. I have to be honest though, I do try as much as I can to give blood if I have the chance at a blood drive. Giving blood doesn’t take long at all and other than having to control my alcohol or exercise that day – it doesn’t impact my life too much. It’s like voting for me. I feel good doing it and feel proud walking around with my elbow wrapped up in horrible blue tape for a couple of hours. It’s like a battle scar that somehow says, “I care”.
Platelets. For some reason this process is a whole new ball game. I don’t give them as much as I should. I’m just lazy about it really. I’m very particular about my platelet giving. It is a must to have someone with me to entertain me for 90 minutes. I can’t focus on Isabella too much in those chairs or the experience may become to painful.
I have had some very memorable platelet donations. The first anniversary of her death, I decided to schedule a platelet donation during the hours she died of June 28th. I figured that if I was going to do this in her honor, let’s really do it. The center was full that day as we were really pushing for 100 platelet donors that week, which is harder than landing on the moon apparently. I sat in my chair and watched seas of purple come in and out. Everyone knew that I was struggling because I sat there trying to have conversation, but knowing that tears that were falling slowly from my eyes as I talked.
I could see the hour of her death approaching and I just wanted to die. My brother came in during that time and sat with me. I think he gave blood instead of platelets that morning but all I really remember was him being with me. He was there with me on the day we found out she had cancer, up until the day she died in our house. He is a quiet brother at times but his presence is heavy. We don’t often talk during these times about what is really going on in our head – it’s like an unspoken thing. He knew how hard it was for me as I sat there and sobbed. He just sat there – understanding how the things we hate to do, still need to be done. This is not where I wanted to be on this morning and he knew it. He knew I wanted to be in my bed, sobbing and not sitting here in this gray chair. But once again, I was doing something, not for myself, but for her. It was the longest donation of my life – but the most meaningful.
We left that morning together and drove to pick out an engagement ring for his girlfriend, Laura. He let me be a part of a huge day in his life, maybe because I let him be a part of mine. We went to lunch and had a drink and laughed. By then my tears were dried up and I had focused on the excitement of his day. He was starting a new chapter and I got to be there for it. It was a good day in the end.
Each year as this date approaches, I feel myself wanting to retreat. I have gotten a little smarter and try to no longer go during that hour of her passing. It’s just not a smart thing for me to do anymore. But I still go. I go because I know how important blood and platelets were to her survival. I go because I remember her bruising from the slightest touch and how platelets repaired her body so easily. I go because I remember her not being able to walk into the hospital, only to find out that she was in such desperate need of a blood transfusion that I would have to carry her tired body everywhere. She would run out of the clinic after her transfusion, as if the events of the earlier day never occurred.
I go because every time I’m there and I check in, the staff knows me and knows her. Someone there always says a kind word to me about her legacy and I know there is no where else I should be.
I go because it’s the right thing to do. I go for her.
Please help us honor Isabella through your platelet donation with The Community Blood Center of the Carolinas during the entire week of June 21-28…AND at ANY of their locations. Our goal is a 100 donations.
– DATES: Thursday, June 21st – Thursday, June 28th
– GOAL: 100 donations
– PHONE: 1-888-59BLOOD / Can call to schedule at any center
– EMAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org