Why I decided to start donating blood at MD Anderson
Melissa Fuquay Baker
When my husband, Jeff, was diagnosed with bile duct cancer in June 2019, I’d already been donating blood for almost 20 years. I especially enjoyed donating platelets, both because I could do it more often, and because it was a little harder to accomplish. Afterward, I’d usually be pretty wiped out, but it felt good, knowing I was really helping people.
Before Jeff and I were married, his mother thanked me for being a longtime blood donor. Jeff needed many transfusions as a child, to overcome a non-Hodgkin lymphoma diagnosis when he was 12. And she was pleased he’d found a life partner who’d been willing to help people like her son.
After Jeff’s latest cancer diagnosis, though, giving blood took on a whole new dimension. Because when your spouse has cancer, you really don’t have control over much of anything. And you really, REALLY want to do something to help them.
I made the decision to start giving blood at MD Anderson in August 2021, after a blood shortage affected my husband’s treatment. Jeff’s blood counts were low enough to disqualify him from joining a clinical trial, but not quite low enough to trigger a blood transfusion.
I understood that other patients needed the blood more, but it was still frustrating. So, I made a decision. I knew that my blood donations wouldn’t necessarily be given to Jeff directly. But it was nice to know there was something I could do to help reduce the overall shortage, when I felt so helpless otherwise.
I still wish it was possible to do more. But while I may not be able to cure Jeff, I can keep doing this.