When considering giving blood, its one thing to hear the stats. But it’s another thing entirely to hear how blood donations can truly impact a receiver’s life. We spoke with Khris Anderson, an Executive Director of the American Red Cross and a cancer survivor, to hear how blood saved her life.
Throughout her seven years working as the Executive Director for the North Alabama Chapter of the American Red Cross, Khris Anderson has seen the impact of the Red Cross’ Blood Services first-hand. But she got an even closer look in 2015, when she was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer.
Bham Now: Tell us about your diagnosis.
Khris: In October of 2015, I was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer. I wasn’t a smoker, so the diagnosis was a big shock to me and the doctors. I was immediately put on chemotherapy, but the tumors actually began to grow. So, the doctors put me on an immunotherapy drug that began to shrink the tumor. However, during treatment I began to have bleeding in my lower right lung.
Bham Now: How did the bleeding affect your day-to-day life?
Khris: Since I was a Stage IV cancer patient, the doctors weren’t able to surgically assess the bleeding in my lung. It was miserable—the bleeding was so bad that my entire body was swollen. Every step was painful, my bones hurt, my body hurt, I couldn’t even put on shoes.
Bham Now: When did you first start to receive blood from the American Red Cross?
Khris: I’ll never forget. I was sitting there in my wheelchair when they first brought in the blood. I immediately began to cry, because I never thought that I would need those blood products—but there it was. When you’re in that stage, blood is THE best thing you ever have. I immediately felt human again, so much better. In fact, I tell people I wasn’t a drug seeker—I was a blood seeker.
I started receiving the blood in July, which is typically a time when the Red Cross has a shortage. It meant so much to me—that life-saving blood had to come from a donor who had made an appointment and taken the time to roll up their sleeves and give that gift. That gift bought me enough time for the doctors to carry out recovery procedures.
Bham Now: How did the blood from the American Red Cross change your life?
Khris: Five years ago, I was unable to leave my wheelchair. Now, I do 20-mile backpacking trips. I’m expecting my first grandson in October. If not for the blood from the American Red Cross, I wouldn’t have survived to make it to surgery. I wouldn’t be here if not for the gift of blood from donors to the American Red Cross.
Make a donation. Save lives.
The need for blood is constant—luckily, the American Red Cross has made it easier to donate than ever.
- First, check your eligibility online to ensure the safety of both yourself and recipients.
- Next, schedule your blood donation at an upcoming blood drive.
- Finally, show up! On average, the process takes about an hour, while the actual blood donation is only eight to ten minutes.
Tip: Download the Red Cross Blood Donor app. After your first donation, you can use the digital donor card to scan in at registration and avoid filling out the paperwork.
Oh, and one more thing. Each blood donation is tested for COVID-19 antibodies. Antibodies are formed when fighting an illness such as COVID-19. So, the presence of COVID-19 antibodies in your system means you have encountered COVID-19, regardless of whether or not you felt symptoms.
Have you or someone you’ve known been impacted by blood from the American Red Cross? Tag us @bhamnow and share your story.