Create, reflect, work, play. With a focus on these four critical “spaces” at our annual training conference this June, we hope that attendees will gain a refreshing perspective on their lives, both professionally and personally.
Our first ever blood drive, taking place on the first day of the conference, will be a great time to reflect! In partnership with the San Diego Blood Bank, CollegeSource is excited to host this drive and bring real help to the local community.
Our hope is that attendees—whether they do or do not donate blood—will reflect on the ways in which giving something small can have life-changing effects. Take it from CollegeSource’s Senior Support Analyst Donna Pursifull who, every winter, is reminded of when blood donors saved her life.
The following excerpt is from Donna’s story, published by the Community Blood Center in Ohio.
When December 29 comes around, donor Donna Pursifull celebrates. It’s not her birthday, it’s not an early New Year’s party. She gives thanks for the doctors and blood donors who helped her cheat death 40 years ago, then welcomes another bonus year of life.
Donna grew up in Bardstown, Kentucky, where she first donated blood at her high school. She continued donating in the fall of her freshman year at Murray State University. She came home for Christmas feeling on top of the world. “I was in the best shape I’d ever been,” she recalled. “It was just not my time to die.”
Christmas was over and Donna and her friends had time on their hands. When the first snow of the season fell, they knew exactly what to do: go sledding at the Old Kentucky Home Golf Course. “Everybody went there,” she said. “Later people would ask me if I was the girl that closed down the hill.”
What happened on December 29, 1976, changed the way people looked at a familiar winter playground, and the way Donna looked at life. But it began with just a group of friends sliding down the fresh snow on a makeshift sled.
“It was a big inner tube from a truck,” she recalled. “We were flying. I don’t know if someone caught a foot, but we hit a ditch and it caught me right in the middle. It just split my entire liver in half.”
She remembers the drama that followed at the hospital. “They thought it was my spleen,” she said. “They closed me and told my family I was going to die. They wanted to be sure I had last rights because they were sure I was going to die. They told my parents I wouldn’t make it.”
The surgical staff focused on her damaged liver, with multiple blood transfusions helping buy time. “They told me I got 124 units between surgery and recovery,” she said. “The surgeon told me there is no medical reason I should be alive. He said my liver looked like it had been dropped off a three-story building.”
But she had survived to welcome a new year. “My boyfriend at the time came in on New Year’s Eve and watched the clock turn midnight with me there with the respirator on,” she said.
She missed the next semester at Murray State and spent two months recovering at home. But she returned to school with a new outlook and tremendous gratitude.
“I thought it was the best thing that ever happened to me,” she said. “In Bardstown, people donated in my name to replenish the blood supply. I still have a list of all the names. I had a bag full of cards and messages like ‘Don’t give up.’ I go home and see them, or on Facebook, and I remember.”
Her loved ones knew how close they came to losing her. Donna still remembers a conversation with her grandmother. “My grandma came in the house with a new dress on. When I commented on the dress, she had to leave the house. She had bought the dress for my funeral.”
Donna says, “I was good Catholic school girl in high school, never broke rules. I went back to university and broke a few rules! I still got good grades. You realize life is short. I’d go to the quarry and jump off a cliff. I wouldn’t have done that before, take a few risks and say, ‘what the heck.’”
After graduating she went to work for Murray State as a registrar, and donated blood when she could. “It made me much more dedicated,” she said
She moved to Ohio in 2007 and became a Community Blood Center donor (she has 35 lifetime donations with CBC). “I come here for whoever needs it, being glad I can repay. I make it a priority.”
“It’s an obligation,” she says. “Before (the accident) giving to the community was part of it. But you don’t take it seriously until you say I would not be here without it, just no question.”
December 29, 1976 will never leave her. She’s replayed it so many times over the year. “We debated whose turn it was to be on the bottom of the inner tube,” she said. “I’m sure I hit from the front. I still wake up from a dream of hitting that ditch, remembering how cold it was. I still have scars.”
But she does wake up from that dream, and she is no longer cold. That is because of good doctors, good fortune, and dedicated blood donors. Donna reflects, “Every day is a gift.”
Blood Drive Details
The drive will be held at the 2018 CollegeSource Annual Conference on Monday, June 18, from 11:00am to 5:00pm, on Mission Bay Lane within Paradise Point (the roadway between the two main parking lots).
More information on blood donation guidelines and tips can be found here. Additionally, the San Diego Blood Bank will be happy to answer any questions or concerns you may have, at the drive.
Not registered for the conference? Check out the full agenda to explore user training sessions and networking fun here and register your spot today!
If you are interested in participating in the blood drive, please come on by!