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.

Help replenish the blood supply

American Red Cross staff member Deshayla Tran finishes collecting a whole blood donation from Terry Smith, who has been regularly donating blood for the last five to 10 years. Amanda Romney/American Red Cross

Donors of all blood types, especially type O, are needed to help replenish the blood supply as the Red Cross faces an emergency need right now. Blood from generous volunteer donors helps families like the Jolliffes.

In February 2018, Meghan Jolliffe suffered an amniotic fluid embolism. During childbirth her heart stopped beating for 14 minutes resulting in the need for an emergency cesarean section. Her organs began to shut down, and her blood would not clot.

Meghan received nearly 100 units of blood within a seven-hour period during her procedures. The doctors were able to stop the bleeding and stabilize Meghan’s condition. Over the next several days, Meghan underwent five surgeries, dialysis and more to repair the damage to her body.

Type O negative red blood cells are kept in a Red Cross storage refrigerator before being distributed to a hospital. Type O negative is the universal blood type and what emergency room personnel reach for when there is no time to determine the blood type of patients in the most serious situations. Amanda Romney/American Red Cross

After her son Sullivan was delivered, he went without oxygen for seven minutes. Doctors performed a process called therapeutic hypothermia, or whole-body cooling, to preserve his neuro function, and he also received several units of blood.

In all, Meghan and Sullivan received 109 units of blood.

Meghan and Sully

“My family and I are forever grateful for the generosity of Red Cross volunteer blood donors,” says Meghan. “Donating blood is so important. You or a loved one may never need these lifesaving products, but I can assure you that someone, somewhere will.”

Please don’t wait to donate.  You can make an appointment now to give blood or platelets by downloading our free Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

Thank you!

LaDeodra Drummond donates blood. Jeanette Ortiz-Osorio/American Red Cross