Share Your Story

Release of Likeness

“As a blood recipient, I know personally how important and life-saving blood donation can be. And as a high school teacher and Key Club Advisor, I think it’s crucial to step up and be a positive role model for my students. That’s what motivates me to be a blood donor and coordinate blood drives that give others the opportunity to be life-savers, too.” —Katie Thunshelle

Katie Thunshelle remembers the moment of bliss when she held little newborn, Ty, in her arms for the very first time. Her heart swelled with love, her eyes filled with tears of joy. But in an instant, her tears became tears of pain. And happiness was replaced with anxiety and urgency. Her uterus wasn’t contracting as it should and she had begun to hemorrhage.

After 90 minutes in the delivery room Katie endured another four hours in the OR and two surgeries, including a D&C (Dilation and Curettage) and an emergency hysterectomy. She also received four units of red blood cells to replace what her body had lost plus two units of plasma. “By this time,” Katie recalls, “all of my clotting factors had been used up. And now, in addition to the original hemorrhage, I was in what seemed to me to be a bleeding free-fall.” Airlifted to a Level II trauma hospital some 80 miles away, Katie received 17 more units of blood as she slowly recovered from the trauma her body had suffered.

“In total, I received 23 units of blood,” Katie says, “more than twice what the average body holds and enough to fill nearly three one-gallon milk jugs! And the most amazing thing to me is that it was perfect strangers who donated blood not knowing where the blood would end up. It could have gone to a soldier, a car crash victim, a child battling cancer or, in my case, to a new mom fighting the greatest 24-hour battle of her life.”

Nine days after delivering her healthy baby boy, Katie finally arrived home. But it would take nearly one year, including several additional surgeries, before Katie completely recovered. That’s when she began to give back. Once Katie became eligible, she began to make regular blood donations. “I never donated until I received blood myself because I was always worried about passing out,” Katie says. “Now I realize how trivial that fear is compared to the priceless gift I can give. And when I talk to people, especially students, I can tell them first-hand what a simple, safe, and relatively painless process blood donation is! When they say, “I’m scared of needles”, I respond by saying that one small needle stick is certainly less scary than the medical disaster I went through!”

Katie also started coordinating blood drives at the high school where she teaches, sharing her story and encouraging everyone who can to take a moment to give blood. “Once I explain the donation process, students almost always commit to donating. And they often come back to me afterward saying things like, “that was so easy” or “I’m really glad I did that – I’ll totally do it again!” And the results at our school show that it works! We used to get maybe 40 kids to sign up for a blood drive, now we get 80. And while we used to host just three drives a year, we’re now hosting five. All of that makes me so proud,” Katie added.

Read more about Katie's story.

Find out more about how you can volunteer to coordinate blood drives in the community. Learn more at Host a Drive.