ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Every day the American Red Cross helps people right in our community prevent, prepare for, and respond to natural and human-cause disasters.
One way they do this is through blood drives. The pandemic has hit our local blood supply especially hard with a larger need and fewer donations.
Brenda Hill is an example on what one single donation can truly mean for someone.
“I’ve had people actually stop on the street when they pass and look and say nice wall!”
When you walk around Brenda’s yard- you feel a sense of light. With vibrant colors and an even brighter personality–it’s a sanctuary of sorts.
In just a few short weeks spring will bring more blossoms–and hopefully more healing.
Behind Brenda’s smile is an illness that doctors say she won’t survive.
“I remember her calling and telling me ‘you have amyloidosis.’ And I said well at least it’s not cancer, and she said, ‘Honey, you’re going to want to wish you had cancer.”
Most battling the rare disease are only given one year to live. Brenda barely made it a month after her diagnosis before her life nearly ended. What started out as severe pain in her stomach almost cost her life.
“They took me to the hospital and I had a GI bleed- and they couldn’t stop it. And I kept bleeding and bleeding and they called in a pastor and said [I was] not going to make it.”
Brenda went into cardiac arrest twice and woke up three days later intubated and unable to walk.
But it was a single Red Cross donation–6 units of blood given to her during operation–that saved her life.
“What did that donation give to you?”
“Life. Total life.”
Time on earth she says she will never take for granted.
“To be honest, I cry. The first time I had gone to the beach I looked at it and I cried because I didn’t think I’d ever see it again.”
These new memories serve as a reminder that one donation can truly mean the world to someone.
Her mission now- getting others to give.
“Donate donate donate donate. I owe them that. I owe them that,” said Brenda.
Last year she hosted her own blood drive, inspiring others with her story. Though her fight continues today, she’s focused on what this next season of life will bring.
“Something is always blooming,” she says.
Brenda says she hopes to continue volunteering for the Red Cross- and in person. This year has been especially tough for The Red Cross, like so many organizations.