Donated blood for the first time at a military blood bank, on base, with soldiers and airmen — it was the most fun I’ve had in years of giving blood, mostly in big cities.
It was also tearful.
This blood I give is not only my blood. It is our blood.
It is my blood, mixed with that of American soldiers, and I cannot forget that.
Transfusions that saved my life in Afghanistan changed my blood type and left me with an imprint that will follow me for the rest of my days.
There are antibodies in my blood now that prevent me from giving this blood back to someone in uniform in an emergency.
But the blood can be donated to someone else — a military spouse or child facing surgery, perhaps — or anyone else in need, so long as their blood type is known, and they, too, have the antibodies. Apparently, this is not uncommon.
A military doctor called me to discuss this. It was a shock to get the call, but he was reassuring and kind. He sent me a follow-up letter explaining that all my blood donations for the rest of my life will help someone — just not anyone on the battlefield, or any other military emergency, where transfusions are needed and blood can’t be accurately tested.
I work with wounded warriors every day, honoring my promise that I would do all I can to help those who saved my life.
I just can’t give back our blood in battle.
With gratitude, always, for the courage and compassion of every single woman and man in the U.S. military who saved our lives in Afghanistan.