The McDonald family is thankful for blood donors like you.

Do you ever wonder where your donated blood goes? Will your donation end up helping to save a life? Will it, in turn, even help to create a life?

On April 17, 2009, Nathan McDonald, then 26 years old, was riding his motorcycle when a garbage truck pulled in front of him. With little time to react, Nathan slammed into the truck at high speed.

When he arrived at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) emergency room after the accident, Nathan wasn’t expected to live. He had suffered a head injury, a fractured pelvis, and massive blood loss. During the first night alone, Nathan received about 60 pints of blood. (An average adult body holds about 10 – 12 pints.)

“I was sitting in the waiting room surrounded by family and friends, and I thought, ‘My gosh, we need to give blood,'” says Nathan’s wife, Merideth McDonald. “If Nate needs this much blood, all of these other people need it, too.” Following Merideth’s lead, Nathan’s family and friends visited the Blood Donor Center while waiting for updates on Nathan’s condition.

Dr. James Watkins and Dr. Mark Vrahas, chief of Partners Orthopedic Trauma Services, were eventually able to stop Nathan’s bleeding, stabilize his condition, and treat his numerous injuries. Following successful surgery, Nathan commenced his recovery – in the Intensive Care Unit and then at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital. The recovery process was expected to take about one year, but Nathan’s hard work helped trim that down to just a few months.

Despite his quick recovery, Nathan was told that the severity of his pelvic injuries made it unlikely that he would have children. But Nathan defied that prognosis as well. Less than one year after being discharged from Spaulding, he and Merideth announced that they were expecting their first child.

“I was blown away,” says Nathan. “It was definitely a miracle.”

They named her Lija Brigham – a combination of their mothers’ first names, followed by a tribute to the folks who took care of her father.

But they wouldn’t have been able to save Nathan without the help of blood donors. Their contributions helped keep Nathan alive and give him the opportunity to become Lija’s father.

Are those good enough reasons to donate?

If you have questions about donating blood or would like to schedule an appointment at the Kraft Family Blood Donor Center at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, please call 1-888-LETSGIV or 617-732-6620. The Center, located on the first floor of the Jimmy Fund Building, is open Monday through Thursday, 7 a.m. – 6 p.m., and Friday and Saturday, 7 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. You also can visit the American Red Cross website to find other locations for donating the gift of life.

– Chris P., Michelle C.

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