When they needed it most, blood transfusions were readily available
Grace can trace her commitment to her days as a student at Cedar Springs High School, where she learned in anatomy class the power of O-negative blood—her type and a universal option for anyone in need.
Just nine percent of the Michigan population has O-negative blood, which puts Grace in a class by herself. But her story is even more compelling since the day nearly six years ago when, while pregnant with her firstborn, she developed chorioamnioitis.
She eventually underwent an emergency Caesarian section. During her ordeal, which lasted nearly five hours and included an emergency hysterectomy at the age of 21, she required a blood transfusion.
“I almost died,” she says, noting that she was conscious during the entire trying episode. What she took away from that traumatic experience, however, were two rewards: One, a daughter Charlotte, now going on six years old. And two, a personal story to share about the importance of stepping up to donate blood and blood products.
Grace actually began donating blood as a student at Cedar Springs, where, coincidentally, she met Cory Brown, the father of their child. “I was a sophomore and he was a senior,” she relates. Both were members at the time of Business Professionals of America, which was sponsoring a blood drive at the high school.
Little did they know then that not only would Grace lean on blood donors for her own vital needs, but that Cory, too, would come to require multiple transfusions. “He was in a car accident before we had Charlotte, back in 2007, and then in 2011, he was hit by a drunk driver,” says Grace. In both instances, her common-law husband needed donor blood.
Today, the happy trio makes its home in Cedar Springs, where Charlotte – described by mom as being “bubbly, fun and smart” — is a whiz at jigsaw puzzles and is set to start kindergarten this comi.ng fall. Grace is diligent about giving blood for obvious personal reasons, and also because it’s just the right thing to do. She enjoys tracking her progress, pint by pint, acknowledging that she just passed the 6-gallon mark this past March.
It’s fun for her to travel back in her mind to those days in anatomy class, when the instructor mapped out how “With O-negative blood, you can basically save anybody,” she says. “It’s kind of awesome, that the whole world is basically eligible for my blood, and so that has spurred me to action.”
“It’s one hour out of one day just every two months of your life,” says Grace. “You can be selfless in that single hour and make a huge difference.”
Michigan Blood is the sole provider of blood and blood products for more than 60 hospitals in Michigan, including Spectrum Health, Metro Health, and Mercy Health St. Mary’s. Donations given outside of Michigan Blood do not have direct local impact. Donating blood with Michigan Blood helps save the lives of patients in Michigan hospitals. Any healthy person 17 or older (or 16 with parental consent) who weighs at least 110 pounds may be eligible to donate. Blood donors should bring photo ID. We are currently in urgent need of O-Negative blood donations.
The next blood donor drive in Cedar Springs will be on August 23, at Cedar Springs United Methodist Church, Gym, 140 S Main St., Cedar Springs, 12:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. For more locations, visit www.miblood.org.