Keeping her promise to save lives

Three months ago, Jenapher Blair made a promise to give blood. After being on the receiving end of blood donation following the birth of her child, Jenapher hoped to become a blood donor herself.

Feeling a little emotional and filled with anticipation, Jenapher and her husband Steve arrived for her appointment at an American Red Cross blood drive in Hutchinson, Minn. on Nov. 9. “I’m wondering where my blood will go and who it’s going to help – I’ll be watching my blood donor app to follow the journey of my donation,” said Jenapher.

First-time blood donor Jenapher Blair rolled up a sleeve at a Red Cross drive on Nov. 9, 2021.

In just a little over five minutes, Jenapher’s donation was finished and she proudly held her blood bag close to her heart. “Wow, I can’t believe how quick that was – it’s such a great feeling to know that I’m going to help make a difference for someone, just like the people who’s blood I received did for me and my family!”

Jenapher Blair holding baby Adalyn with her husband and children.

Everything was going well…until it wasn’t

Following the birth of baby Adalyn in July, Jenapher started to hemorrhage and was losing blood quickly. It was a matter of life and death. Doctors couldn’t control her bleeding and the nearest blood was 80 miles away. The hospital called the Red Cross and in-turn the Minnesota State Patrol was immediately contacted to help rush four units of type O-negative blood to the hospital.

The lifesaving blood was delivered in just 65 minutes. Doctors told Jenapher “we were on borrowed time while waiting for the blood to arrive” and that she would not have survived had the blood arrived even minutes later.

Grateful and giving back

Jenapher left the blood drive pumping her fist in the air with excitement and thanking everyone in the room for giving the gift of life.

“Paying it forward doesn’t stop here for me,” she said. “It’s more personal. I want to be an example for my kids. We want to do our part and spread the word about the need and help get the numbers up because I realize how important it is to have blood available – if I hadn’t received the blood I needed, things could be very different.”

An exuberant Jenapher Blair after donating blood for the first time.

Jenapher, Steve, and their kids are also gamers who are raising funds through Mission Red, the official gaming and streaming charity program of the Red Cross. Learn more here or join their fundraising campaign TheOasisFam.

“The more we can do to be advocates for the lifesaving mission of the Red Cross, the better!”

Story by Sue Thesenga, American Red Cross. To find a blood drive near you click here.

The Greatest Gift

The 2014 Run for Blood is only weeks away. Proceeds from this annual event benefit American Red Cross North Central Blood Services. In other words, your participation, whether you run or walk, helps the Red Cross provide life-saving blood to someone like our own Jacqueline “Jacks” Michaud, who needed blood to save her life after childbirth. 

Jacks Michaud and her family.
Jacks Michaud and her family.

I was 17 years old the first time I gave blood in the gymnasium of my high school.  I never questioned the choice of giving, I gave because I could (and it got me out of 5th period).  After that initial experience, I have continued to give. I give because I can; I have never expected anything in return.

Fast-forward years later as my husband and I are eagerly awaiting the arrival of our first child.  I am nine months pregnant, round and happy despite the morning sickness lasting all nine months.  My husband and I had read every book, taken every class, and planned, planned, planned for baby.  Our daughter arrived on June 3rd at 3:33 a.m.  We were instantly in love and in awe of this seven-pounds nineteen-inch little person who came into the world with a smile on her adorable face. However, with all my planning I was not prepared for what happened next.

Our joy was soon cut short as I began to experience medical complications after my labor and delivery.  The post-delivery complications caused me to hemorrhage.  I remained confident and euphoric in my post-delivery baby bliss, but soon began to feel ill and faint.  I only remember truly becoming disturbed when I witnessed the nurses exchanging glances of worry when documenting the continued blood loss.  At that moment it became real, my life was no longer about myself, just a few moments prior my entire existence changed, and now I was responsible for a little baby and her entire existence.  Fear set in.

Jack's infant daughter.
Jack’s infant daughter.

The next memory I have is of my nurse hanging a lovely red bag of blood on my I.V. stand. I remember thinking to myself that some generous person, whoever they are, will be forever tied to me, giving me a part of them so that I can be a mom, thankful that they gave because they could.

On that joyous day, I was thankful that I was able to receive the needed transfusions my body needed.  I was able to be with my baby and my husband, and enjoy the precious newness and beauty of parenthood while putting aside the fears of hours past.

That day I made a commitment to myself the moment I received that first pint of beautiful red life.  I promised that I would be a better and more consistent blood donor, knowing that just maybe one day my donation could help another.

Every year around the time of my daughter’s birthday, my son’s birthday and my own birthday I donate blood because I can.  It is the greatest gift I can give.

Story by Jacqueline Michaud
Mom, Blood Donor, and Red Crosser

Click here to register for the 2014 Run for Blood, which will be held July 26 on Thomas Beach at Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis. Not a runner? You can donate blood on race day.