For many people, donating blood is something they leave for others to do. Fear of the donation process, difficulty finding time, or a lack of awareness can hold them back. Some people have medical conditions that prevent them from being able to donate. Fortunately, there are several other people who routinely donate blood out of a sense of service to others. For one Leitchfield woman, being able to donate blood took on a special meaning for her after she required blood given by strangers to save her life.
Leandra Lindsey had donated blood several times and had seen patients receive blood at Twin Lakes Regional Medical Center where she has worked for several years. A mother of two young girls, Kayden and Kansas, Leandra was enjoying her family life and her work in the medical field. A near-death health crisis was one of the farthest things on her mind.
In June of 2015, Leandra started having female health issues and standard treatments weren’t working.
“I was losing blood and experiencing dizziness and headaches that wouldn’t go away,” she said.
One night her health issues reached a peak.
“I was up all night and kept almost passing out,” she said. “My heart rate was quite rapid.”
Ignoring her husband Chris’s request that she stay home the next day and rest, Leandra insisted that she needed to go to work to attend a meeting that afternoon. Soon after arriving at the office a co-worker, Cheryl, took one look at her and, as Leandra tells the story, said in strong words, “You’re gray, you are going down for labs right now!”
The hospital lab quickly determined her hemoglobin levels were extremely low, which put her at a high risk of dying. Her hemoglobin level was 5 while 12-16 are normal ranges for adults. Leandra was sent directly to the Critical Care Unit for an infusion of four units of blood and 36 hours later was released from the hospital after becoming stable.
“I have worked with patients for so many years but I never expected to become the patient, even in all the things I have experienced during my time here,” she said.
The following day she had surgery to correct her health problem and put her on the pathway of recovery.
“I had seen patients normally get from two to three units of blood at a time during my work in the TLRMC infusion center, so I knew that needing four units was very serious,” Leandra said.
Her vital signs were poor, and Leandra was later told that she was “hours away” from dying.
“If I would have stayed home to rest alone that day I probably would have died from cardiac arrest,” she said. “Coming to Twin Lakes saved my life. It’s crazy to think that I was so close to dying in the blink of an eye over a common health problem.”
The first lesson Leandra would like people to learn from her experience is to get health problems checked early before they become serious.
“Don’t put off seeking attention as long as I did,” she said. “Waiting not only put me and my family in a medical emergency but it also may have caused life-long health issues for me.”
“Without other people taking the time and making the effort to donate blood I probably wouldn’t be here,” Leandra explains.
That leads to the second thing Leandra would like people to know—donating blood truly does save lives.
“My husband would have lost his wife and my daughters would have lost their mom if it weren’t for those donors,” she said.
After having to wait 12 months after her surgery to be able to donate blood, Leandra was excited about being able to pass along the gift of life to others. Now working for Drs. Lee, Buck and Lee, Leandra is grateful to be able to take advantage when Twin Lakes Regional Medical Center hosts their regular blood drives.
“I’ve probably donated 20 times now in my lifetime even though it wasn’t common for people to do that in my family,” she said. “I get a card showing where my donated blood goes and I really love that.”
Leandra has donated three times since her health scare. “I am so thankful and want to give back as many blood donations as I can so someone does not have to go without their spouse, child, parent, grandparent, or friend. Knowing I am giving the gift of life is a wonderful feeling.”
Every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood and approximately 36,000 units of red blood cells are needed every day in the U.S.
Leandra closed with this thought. “My family and I will always be grateful for the people whose blood donations helped save my life.”
The next blood mobile at TLRMC will be on Friday, Feb. 24 from 8 a.m. to noon. The donation bus will be parked next to the Cave-Bland building on the western side of the hospital.
Registered donors can make the process even faster by using RapidPass from the American Red Cross. For more information go to www.redcrossblood.org/rapidpass. Smartphone users can download an app from the American Red Cross that enables them to set an appointment, helping to ensure the donation process is as timely as possible.