First Time Blood Donor Saves Her Own Life

Doctor/ Nurse holding blood bag.

Photo: Getty Images

A Michigan woman donates blood for the first time, hoping to save a life, and ends up saving her own. Detroit resident Merrissa Hoffman had always wanted to donate blood, but had never done it. So when the 32-year-old’s friend, who donates regularly, told her she had an appointment to give, she decided to tag along. “First time donor. I was so excited,” says Merrissa. “It was a great experience. I loved every part of it.”

Everything went well with the donation, but a couple of days later, Merrissa got a letter from the American Red Cross telling her there was something “abnormal” with her blood. As part of the donation process, blood samples are tested and that process revealed that something was off with Merrissa’s blood. She was particularly troubled by the letter because she’d been experiencing some symptoms that she’d chalked up to work stress, but now thought it could be something more serious.

So Merrissa visited a doctor and had some tests run and they discovered she had chronic myeloid leukemia, a serious but treatable type of blood cancer. Fortunately for Merrissa, they’d found it early and she was able to begin treatment right away. She’s grateful for the tests that were run by the Red Cross and for them notifying her quickly. “It’s been life-changing. I’d say that it’s opened my eyes in a lot of ways,” Merrissa says. “Life is short, and you know, you never know one day when it’s going to change, and I’m grateful.” And she adds, “I’m not happy that I have leukemia, but I’m happy that I found it early, and that it’s treatable and that I’m doing okay now.”

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