“Six children, 13 grandchildren, 23 great-grandchildren, 2 great-great-grandchildren—that’s the legacy we would have missed out on had my mother not received blood when I was born.”
It was 1964 and Penny’s mother was facing a difficult childbirth and hemorrhaging which required 9 units of blood. Penny’s father was charged with replacing those units of blood his wife received so that the hospital had inventory for the next patient in need. “My father instantly rallied 27 family and friends to come forth and donate blood – ever since that day, my family became a family of blood donors.”
Penny grew up hearing the story of her birth and how she could have been deprived of growing up without her mother and subsequent younger brothers had donors not come forth. “My entire life, I’ve heard how donated blood saved my mother’s life. As soon as I was old enough, I started donating blood and haven’t stopped since. Donating blood is such an easy way to help people – so much easier than running a marathon and you’re saving and impacting lives and legacies!”
In the US, approximately 700 women die each year as a result of pregnancy or delivery complications according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“When I see my mother surrounded by her children and 38 offspring, I can’t help but get emotional. My mother’s story could have easily not turned out the way it did, and we would have missed out on so much love and so many memories. I would not have the family I grew up with, she would have never had the chance to teach me how to cook and bake, play jacks and Yahtzee, or patch a bicycle tire because she would have died at the age of 24.”
Penny’s mother pictured with her great-great-grandson.
Penny, a Power Red blood donor who enjoys long walks with her husky, Bella, has an extensive career in building and testing clinical trial databases, “In my job, I work with medical treatment results and the impact those results have on patients. Blood donation not only impacts the person in need but the entire trajectory of a family’s story. I remain committed to honoring my mother by being a blood donor and telling my story as many times as needed to motivate others to save lives by donating blood.”
Every day, the Red Cross must collect more than 13,000 blood donations to help support accident victims, surgery patients, organ transplant patients, those receiving treatment for leukemia, cancer or sickle cell disease, and emergency obstetric care. There is no substitute for donated blood products.
Written by Illinois Communications Manager Connie Esparza