Generations of Gratitude: The Lifesaving Impact of Blood Donation on My Family

June 26, 2024 at 12:26 pm

Many of our donors have a personal motivation behind donating blood. Julie Fogarty, from a closely connected family with a unique medical history, exemplifies this. Here, she recounts her family’s enduring struggle with leukemia, spanning three generations, and her deep gratitude for blood donors whose generosity helped extend her relatives’ lives.

By Julie Fogarty

My family has a complicated history of leukemia across three generations. We’ve lost my grandfather, aunt, cousin, and uncle all to the disease at very early ages. The shared familial (germline) mutation is still unknown, despite the efforts of some incredible oncologists, so it is difficult to understand how it’s passed down genetically and to predict which family members may be at risk in the future.

However, one thing is certain. As a result of our experiences with leukemia, my family has been the beneficiaries of the tremendous generosity of complete strangers who made the decision to be blood donors. One very special instance of that generosity came while my cousin Emily was sick. My mom was trying to make a directed platelet donation (when a friend or family member donates for a specific patient) for Emily, but it didn’t work out that day. She was understandably overcome with emotion at not being able to make the directed donation, and she began to cry in the donation center. Another donor asked my mom about the person she was trying to donate for, and he offered to direct his donation to Emily.

Emily (left) with cousins Monica (center) and Julie.

That is a very specific story of a donor who touched our family, but there were so many unknown heroes whose blood donations gave my family precious time with my Grandpa Jack (who I unfortunately never met), my Aunt Mary, my cousin Emily, and my Uncle Joe.

From the moment I was eligible to donate blood, I knew that it was something I wanted to do. I wanted to pay forward the incredible gift my family had been given in some of our toughest times. I want to give other families cherished time with loved ones. I also do my best to encourage friends and family to become blood donors. You’ll find me posting about the importance of blood donation on my social media after each of my SuperRed donations, where I’m able to give two units of whole blood in one visit. Every new donor I can recruit is giving the gift of life and the gift of more special moments to someone else’s cousin Emily, Aunt Mary, Uncle Joe, or Grandpa Jack.

Julie began donating blood at age 16 and is a dedicated SuperRed donor, visiting every 16 weeks. She believes in a “universal blood balance”; her blood is there to help others the way blood was there for her family members, allowing them to have extra time together.