In March 2016, during a motorcycle ride to the grocery store, Dale’s life changed forever. While waiting at a stoplight in the turning lane, Johnson was hit by a young driver who didn’t see him. The impact of the 2-ton car on Dale’s 700 pound motorcycle threw him off his bike. He waited in agony, reciting street addresses, names and statistics to stay conscious until the paramedics arrived. His injuries were so severe that he was losing blood as quickly as they could transfuse it. By the time paramedics were able to stop the bleeding with a tourniquet, Johnson had used several units of type O negative blood.
Johnson woke up in the Intensive Care Unit. He could tell from the nod his wife gave him that his leg was gone. The doctor worked for nearly four hours repairing broken bones in his shoulder and legs and trying to piece together a dismembered artery, but his leg could not be saved. Fortunately, Johnson suffered no trauma to his brain or spine. During the time Johnson received treatment, from the accident site and in the hospital, his medical teams used more than 20 units of blood and several units of platelets to replace what he’d lost.
“There was a time I only had someone else’s blood in my body. I didn’t have any of my original blood. There’s something indescribable about knowing that,” Johnson said. “I remember thinking somewhere along the way more than 20 different people took time out of their day, made an appointment, and donated. And as a result of that commitment, they helped save my life. I am very thankful.”
He hasn’t let his accident hold him back. He purchased a new motorcycle and stays active. Getting around takes him a little longer, but it didn’t stop him from meeting with the young man that hit him and forgiving him.
Jenn lives in Lincoln with her husband and daughter, and is a lifelong Lincolnite. She had been regularly performing breast self-exams due to a strong family history of breast cancer that includes her aunt, mother, and grandmother. In late January 2015, Jenn discovered two large lumps. One in each breast. “Within a matter of one month, I went from being just Jenn, living life, to cancer patient. It happened just like that.”
In total, Jenn did 20 weeks of chemotherapy, during which she had to have blood transfusions. “The thing about chemo is that it doesn’t only impact the cancer cells, it impacts everything—red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets; everything just gets depleted. I got to the point not once, but twice where my body was so worn and beaten that I couldn’t receive chemotherapy and I had to spend 6 or 7 hours at the hospital receiving a blood transfusion instead. They needed my body to recover fast enough to continue the necessary treatment to kill the cancer.” It takes one hour or more to transfuse one bag of blood, and Jenn needed 2-3 units as well as platelets. “But luckily for me, there was blood on hand, and I didn’t have to wait for the next day or the next week. I was simply able to get it and go and there was no further delay in my treatment.”
Tom suffered a stroke due to a leaking mechanical heart valve, which left him weak and vulnerable. It took 11 pints of blood and open heart surgery to save his life. “My heart is so grateful knowing people are taking the time to donate their blood for whomever may need it,” Elaine said through tears. “I saw my husband extremely ill to the point that I didn’t know if he was going to make it. I watched him receive the blood. I was so thankful it was available when he needed it.” When Elaine got a phone call from NCBB letting her know her blood type was needed, she immediately scheduled an appointment. Just the night before, she sat across the table from Tom, and they talked about how happy they were he was alive and doing well.