I started a combined MD/PhD program in 2012 and this May I will finally graduate. I will be the first MD in my family. This year for my birthday until graduation I am starting a blood drive campaign to encourage my friends, family, classmates, (and anyone else in my sphere) to donate blood! I have no idea whether reaching 100 pledges will be realistic…but here goes.
This year I turned 32, and I am on track to reach the 4 gallon blood donation mark of 32 pints (actually my next donation in 2 days will get me there but some donations were not given through the Red Cross). Every 60 days, I have tried to give blood around my busy schedule because it is near and dear to my heart. Sometimes I am not able to make it…and sometimes I catch a cold…so it is not always possible.
In 2005, I witnessed my younger sister get hit by a car crossing the street in front of my house, suffering numerous serious injuries including a brain bleed and spending a week in a coma. She miraculously only spent 3 months in the hospital and 3 months in rehab re-learning EVERYTHING (walking, talking, eating…) from scratch, and has recovered to the point where the lasting effects are largely invisible. She beat the odds by a long shot — they told us she probably wouldn’t wake up and if she did she might not remember anything, let alone all the accomplishments she has achieved today –, and my family thanks God along with all physicians, nurses, and friends for that. Even for me it seems like this was forever ago and impossible that this was ever part of my real life. There is no doubt that my sister could not have made it without blood donations. This is just one of the many stories I have encountered through medical school — I rotated through the pediatric hematology/oncology unit and those patients need blood like it’s water! Within the past 2 years of medical school, I also received notification that I have a rare blood type (when you account for all the antigens outside of A, B, O and Rh), so my blood now gets marked and placed in a special registry to be reserved for patients that can only receive my type. I hope that giving this tangible portion of my life can make a real difference. So if you are eligible to give blood, please consider making the effort to donate.
This is not something that comes up in regular conversation, so you might not have even known this about my life or my sister’s life. It is, however, one of the most powerful motivators in pursuing this long road of becoming a physician, and it is oftentimes the thing that remains when life gets rough. If you’re still reading (congrats I didn’t bore you!), let it be a reminder that you never know anyone’s internal struggle or why they choose to do what they do.