Having been a faithful blood donor for many years, Marilyn experienced what it feels like to be a recipient of a blood transfusion when she was diagnosed with Still’s disease. “I will always remember feeling better immediately following my blood transfusion,” Marilyn recalls. After having a transfusion, Marilyn was not able to donate for quite some time, but that didn’t stop this Mayo Clinic employee from finding other ways to help our patients.
As a Wellness Champion, Marilyn decided to spearhead a blood donor challenge within her own department with a goal to collectively donate a certain number of units. Blood donor challenges at Mayo Clinic in Rochester are either friendly competitions between departments to see which team can contribute the most blood for our patients or a single department aiming to reach its team goal. “Lenaye’s Lifesavers”—her team name—successfully achieved their goal. Marilyn says, “This is our way to help our patients. We don’t do the surgeries, and we don’t have direct contact with them. It is fun to get new people to become blood donors and give back after all that Mayo has given to us.”
During last year’s competition, the meaning of blood donation became personal for her team. Marilyn’s colleague, Sara, at the time of her delivery required an emergency C-section in order to save her baby’s life. Where a typical C-section might only take an hour to perform, she was on the table for nearly three hours. Her little Gwen was born, and after initially struggling, she was stabilized. Sara, however, had extremely low hemoglobin, so she was offered the choice to have a transfusion, which she did. “Knowing what I know now, I would have asked about the transfusion sooner,” Sara said.
Also a blood donor prior to her delivery, Sara recalls, “Never in all my donations and while participating in this challenge did I ever think that I would be the recipient of blood. It was very emotional. While apprehensive about receiving blood, I was surprisingly very comfortable.”
Marilyn shares, “I remember, too, the thoughts I was having while I received the blood transfusion. What if it doesn’t adhere to me? But I really didn’t have a choice. Once I had received it, I felt so much better.”
Having come full circle in the experience of blood donation, Sara and Marilyn continue to use their passion to inspire their staff to participate in the challenges.
To read more stories like this, visit the Mayo Clinic Blood Donor Program's Blog Page.