On July 25, the American Red Cross Minnesota Region will host the 2015 Run for Blood. This family-friendly walk and run event celebrates the people who give lifesaving blood and supports Red Cross blood services. This inspiring story helps tell why we’re doing this event and why you should participate, too. Go Kate Go!
When you first meet Kate Ross you are instantly moved by her infectious smile and constant laughter. Her friends describe her as fun, inspiring, outgoing, incredible, full of energy, strong and a positive presence. She describes herself on her blog biography as a “student, animal lover, daughter and sister, spiritual, music-obsessed fitness enthusiast, artistic, friendly, optimistic and a volunteer.”
You would never sense from her upbeat demeanor or the words used to describe her that nearly five years ago her life changed in an instant, and she now proudly wears a fashionable crystal-studded, paisley prosthetic leg. Nowhere in the description of Kate could you tell that she was faced with a tragedy that could have easily left her feeling sorry for herself.
In fact, her story is quite the opposite.
“In December 2009, I was weary from the exhaustion of being a full-time student and working full time. I took my finals at school and on my way home that evening I fell asleep while driving,” said Ross. When she dozed off, she was traveling 60 mph and hit a guardrail, which penetrated her car and went through her right calf and thigh.
“I knew that something was drastically wrong with my leg, although I’m lucky that I didn’t realize there was a guardrail basically through my entire body at that point.”
Ross was taken by ambulance to the hospital, and after several surgeries, doctors put her in a medically induced coma. Seven days later, on Christmas Day, doctors made the grave decision to amputate her leg above the knee.
Ross underwent more nearly two years of occupational and physical therapy before her life returned to a “new normal.” Through 19 surgeries, she needed more than 25 pints of lifesaving blood products.
“I was very thankful for the blood being available when I needed it, but I never thought about being a blood donor myself because I’m terrified of needles.” But when her best friend and co-worker asked her to participate in a blood drive, she realized that, despite her fear, she should give blood, too.
“She reminded me it was donated blood that helped save my life after my accident. It was like a big, needed slap in the face that reminded me that I wouldn’t be here to tell my story if it hadn’t been for the generosity of blood donors.”
With a new found gratitude and outlook on life, Ross became a blood donor last year and strives to “be the good you wish to see in the world.” Once a blood recipient, now she is paying it forward.
“I am very excited to say that I have become a blood donor myself because I know how important it is to give something that means something – the gift of life. You never know when you or a loved one will be the one that needs blood.”
Ross is thankful for the heroes who helped save her life and has become an advocate for the Red Cross and a true hero herself. In 2014, she received an American Red Cross Minnesota Region Heroes Award that honors those who have made the simple, yet powerful decision to put their personal needs aside in order to help others.
Ross underwent another surgery last fall on her leg. She was fit for a new prosthetic that improves her mobility and allows her to run. She’s currently training for the 2015 Run for Blood walk and run event at Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis on July 25.
Story by Sue Thesenga, Biomedical External Communications Manager, American Red Cross North Central Blood Services