As a Red Cross Volunteer, My Reason for Donating Blood Hits Close to Home

Story by Hannah C. Wood / Red Cross Cascades

I’ve volunteered for the Red Cross for the past four years in different capacities.

Often, I write about other long-time blood donors. So, it seemed appropriate to share why I’m such an advocate for the donation of blood, plasma, and platelets. 

Hannah Wood donating blood in the
Portland, OR donation center, during COVID-19 in 2020. Photo submitted by Hannah Wood.

Four out of my five immediate family members, including myself, have had blood transfusions.

That is likely a very high percentage in one family! 

About eight years ago, my mom had two ten-hour back surgeries within days of each other.  In total, she received seven units (about seven pints) of blood during the operations. It was a massive amount of blood. It was generous blood donors that kept her safe through her surgeries and recovery. 

My younger sister received blood donations for her heart surgeries – this was lifesaving. And my dad received life-continuing blood transfusions during chemotherapy.  

I’ve had a blood transfusion myself during a scary medical condition a few years back. I was losing lots of blood and needed to have a blood infusion before a surgery, in case of additional blood loss. That transfusion helped raise my iron levels and restored my energy.

I am so grateful to the people who donated blood!

When I was a kid, I would often see both of my parents wearing Red Cross stickers on their shirts. They balanced raising three kids with working full-time and doing lots of volunteer work. Still, they found time to donate blood. My mom donates even though it’s hard for her – she has low pressure and small veins.

I give blood because I’m goal-oriented – giving blood is a challenge for me! I’ve been a strict vegetarian since I was 13-years-old. However, I ironically (and unfortunately) don’t particularly like vegetables. So, multiple times when I’ve tried to donate, I’ve been deferred due to my iron levels being too low. My veins are also very small so it’s not always easy for the phlebotomist (professional who does the blood donation process) to access my veins. 

To continue donating blood, I now take iron supplements daily and drink three times as much water several days before donating. 

I give blood because through my volunteering I’ve met or interviewed people who still donate in their 70’s and 80’s. 

Like them, I hope to make a big impact like them and help save as many lives as possible.