Cancer survivor talks about importance of donating blood during severe blood shortage

This shortage isn’t just impacting cancer patients, but also trauma patients and those needing surgeries
Published: Dec. 27, 2021 at 6:07 PM EST
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) -Kathy O’Rourke was diagnosed with breast cancer back in 2006 and fought hard to beat it.

Before her diagnosis she was a regular blood donor because she knows there’s always a need for it, but after she beat cancer, things changed.

“I asked them if I could donate blood and they said ‘oh no, you can’t’ and they said because of the cancer and I thought they meant forever,” O’Rourke said.

Until just a few months ago when she got a letter from the American Red Cross asking for her donations again.

“I called them up and I said ‘I can’t’ and they said ‘no, you misunderstood or you were misinformed,’ and so I made an appointment that weekend,” O’Rourke said. “I came in and started donating platelets because there was a particular need for that particular day for cancer patients.”

O’Rourke is now back on her regular schedule of donating blood, and she hopes that others start to fill the chairs around her because of the current blood shortage.

“Our blood supply is at a 10-year low, so we strive to have as many as a five day supply of all blood types, especially blood type O, that’s the most transfused, but were at less than a day,” James Jarvis, Executive Director of the American Red Cross of the Cape Fear Area said.

Jarvis added that this shortage isn’t just impacting cancer patients, but also trauma patients and those needing surgeries.

“We’re encouraging everyone that if you can donate, please do. There are people’s lives who are depending right now on the ability of whether you and I can donate blood to make sure that our supplies are there when hospitals need it,” Jarvis said.

The blood supply was there when O’Rourke was going through cancer treatments, so giving back to those who are currently battling cancer is the least she can do.

“It means the world to me if you wanna know the truth. I think very little in our lives do we come across things that can really directly impact someone for their good,” O’Rourke said.

Now, she hopes others will step in to help too.

“It’s a small price to pay, it’s a very small price to pay for helping someone out I think,” O’Rourke said.

To find out if you are eligible to donate blood or to find your nearest blood bank, click here.

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