Donated blood saves Greenwich woman's life

April 11, 2017 06:22 PM

The late spring snowstorm is a memory, but not for the folks at the American Red Cross. The snow forced the cancellation of many blood drives at a time when supplies were already tight.

For people like Bethany Parks, not enough blood can be a matter of life and death.

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It was 2013 and Parks was up to her elbows in rebuilding what would become her home in Greenwich. It was part of her life reboot following breast cancer treatment four years earlier.

She was working again at a sales job that regularly took her around the country. However, the universe had other plans: cancer revisited.

"So I get the call, ‘You have acute myeloid leukemia,’" she recalled.

This cancer was much more deadly than the breast cancer she beat, but triggered her doctor said, by that cancer treatment.

Within a day, she was admitted to Dana Farber Cancer Center and would stay there for a month, enduring such high dose chemo that much of that hospitalization was a blur. However, she knows she relied on donated blood to get through it. The need for transfusions would continue as an outpatient. Parks guesses she probably had around 50 transfusions of some sort.

Parks never doubted blood would be available until the day of the endless wait. A roomful of patients on hold as they waited for blood transfusions. She was told the hospital's blood supply had been diverted to the emergency room to save victims of a car accident that day.

"They'd run out of blood, so they were waiting for the American Red Cross to deliver more blood to the hospital," she recalled.

WEB EXTRA: The importance of blood transfusions

After a few hours, her mom inquired about postponing the transfusion.

"‘Can’t we just go home and come back tomorrow? You know, what’s the worst case scenario if she doesn’t get blood today,’" she remembered her mom asking. "The nurse was like, ‘Well, she could die.’"

Eventually, the blood arrived, but the uncertainty of the supply remains with Parks even now, almost three years post treatment.

Her house is complete, her job's going well, but that day and her survival sparked an ongoing mission to encourage everyone to give the gift of life.

A lot of people did this and so I get to sit here. How grateful, I mean, how much more gratitude could I have to strangers. It's random kindness of others," she noted.

NewsChannel 13 is teaming up with the American Red Cross for our Save a Life Blood Drive. You can help by giving the gift of life on Thursday, April 13 from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. We'll be collecting blood donations at the Gideon Putnam Hotel in Saratoga Springs, the Radisson Hotel in Albany and at Viaport Rotterdam.  You can make a reservation by calling 1-800-RED-CROSS or clicking here.


WNYT Staff

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