I haven’t told this part of the story yet, though.
I was so excited to donate blood again after my son, Chisum, was born, but had to wait until 1 year after his birth. I went into the Nebraska Community Blood Bank the day after Chisum’s first birthday – September 10, 2014. I am alive today because of blood donation and I wanted to start giving back as soon as I could. Before I was pregnant with Chisum, I made blood donation a regular time in my calendar and went as often as I could.
The gals at the NCBB were so friendly and were so excited for me to be giving back to help others after hearing my AFE story. I left the center that day with a refreshed gratitude and praise to God who gave me the ability to be there.
About 10 days later, I received a letter in the mail from the Memorial Blood Center – who partners with NCBB – that my blood tested positive for an anti-Kell antibody and I would no longer be able to donate blood.
My first thought: what is an anti-Kell antibody?
My second thought: surely they just mean I can’t donate for a period of time.
So I called the director at MBC and she explained to me that no, I can never donate again. An anti-Kell antibody means I have an extra antigen in my blood, most likely caused from when my immune system was shocked and shut down with the AFE, then rebooted when I received the blood transfusions (technical info on Kell here). This extra antigen acted as a super protein to fight infection and will stay with me in my blood forever to fight off anything foreign.
It won’t harm me to have it, but it could be an issue if I ever have to have another blood transfusion, or if we decide to have another baby. And my blood could be harmful to others, which is why I cannot donate again.
I got off the phone with the director and felt like a load of bricks knocked me over. Here I was, perfectly healthy (only sleep deprived and exhausted from having a one-year-old boy!), and I wasn’t able to give blood again – something I’ve always been very eager to do and fit into my schedule like clockwork every 8 weeks.
I realize that I am so fortunate to be healthy and thriving after all that I went through, but it just hit me hard that here I am, one year after my AFE, thinking that I was all well and ok. But my body isn’t the same. I benefited from blood donors, but never again could I help anyone. With my blood, that is. I CAN take comfort in the fact that I can still help with blood donation and be a volunteer to get others to donate, even though I cannot.
This time of year is CRITICAL for blood donation and I want to stress the importance of donating blood. It saved my life and your donation can save someone else’s life. Each day in the U.S., approximately 32,000 pints of blood are used. Each day! Every donation is one pint and just that one pint can help save as many as three people’s lives.