Why You Should Give Blood: "Mary's Story"

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From Hopkinton resident Jackie Potenzone:

I read an article in the news on the critical shortage of blood at this time and the need for donations. I want to tell you why I donated blood after reading the story, and why I'm now a blood donor.

We need to take a time machine back to the summer of 2005. My sister was fighting the end stages of gall bladder cancer. Her name was Mary and she was diagnosed with gallbladder cancer in October of 2003. Her cancer was inoperable but treatable with palliative care. I did not understand what that meant at the time or maybe I did not want to. The summer of 2005; as my mother put it, that summer was the beginning of the end for Mary. Every weekend my family and I would take the ride to New Hampshire to go visit her in the hospital. With us having small children, my husband would visit with her for a short visit then take the kids to a local park so I could have more precious time with her. The park and that pint of blood were so important and precious. Time is something that is cherished by families of loved ones suffering from an illness. I noticed every time I went to visit her a bag of blood being given to her. I did not understand at the time why she always needed blood. I asked the nurse one day why she always needed blood transfusions. The nurse explained to me that her body no longer made blood cells as a result of her cancer; she needed transfusions to stay alive. I am sure there is a medical name for this condition, but I don't know what it is. I sat by her bed side and thought to myself, thank you for the person who donated the pint of blood that was being given to my sister, so we could have one more day together. This was a common occurrence during the summer of 2005. The summer time is when blood donations are at their lowest. Mary passed away August 26, 2005, just 11 days after her 51st birthday.

I want to thank the unselfish people who donated blood in the summer of 2005 for giving my family one more day.

I personally gave blood once in high school and never even thought about how important giving blood was. Now I donate blood much more often. After reading in the news of the shortage of blood, my thoughts drifted to my sister and the joy I got seeing her alive one more day. The joy was a gift given to our family by a generous blood donor that summer.

Please take the time and find a blood drive. Donate blood. Give that gift to some family.

As I write this I still miss my sister, but her death has made me a better person. I try to sit back and enjoy life. I found my passion for gardening. I try to enjoy every sunset from my deck and enjoy watching the hummingbirds that come to the feeder near my front porch. I try to make time everyday to enjoy special moments. I don't worry about everything, especially things I can not control. I also became a blood donor.

I hope you read this and do not feel sad; I hope you make a difference. Donating blood only takes about an hour. You get little gifts every time you donate such as Dunkin Donuts give cards, coupons for free water, and you can enter the American Red Cross raffle for Boston Red Sox tickets.

Live Well, Love Much, Laugh Often,

Jackie Potenzone

To read the ABCNews.com story about the blood shortage, Click Here.