Wednesday
Feb262014

Jen Dougherty - Her Reason To Donate

Jen Dougherty comes from a family of dedicated blood donors, but for whatever reason she always found an excuse not to donate...until her son Caleb was born in 2010.

“We found out at our 18-week ultrasound that Caleb had a very serious heart defect and if he was going to have a chance at survival, he would need surgery shortly after birth,” Jen explained.

Caleb had his first open heart surgery at less than 48 hours old. Complications followed the surgery and Caleb required many blood transfusions. During his first surgery and a series of follow-up surgeries to treat his heart defect Caleb used over 40 blood products.

“Without the generous donations of others, our son would have died,” Jen said.

When Caleb reached 5 months old, Jen and her husband, Phil, had the opportunity to donate blood as part of a blood drive competition. Jen said her desire to pay back the gift her son received far overshadowed her fears about donating blood for the first time.

“I was chicken for 21 years and when I had the opportunity to donate and I finally took it, it was no big deal. It wasn’t painful, it was so rewarding,” Jen recalled.

Since that drive Jen has gone on to become a dedicated blood donor, just like the rest of her family.

“I have donated 15-pints of blood in the past three years in the hope that I can help save someone’s life and repay those that helped to save Caleb’s life,” Jen said.

Taking the cause even further, Jen is also a Michigan Blood donor chair responsible for coordinating the Alto Community Blood Drive, which takes place every eight weeks.

“It has gone amazingly well,” Jen said, describing the Alto Community Blood Drive. “A lot of people were going out of town to donate. Now we have a core group of people who come back every eight weeks to donate. It has become a real community event.”

But most importantly to Jen, her son Caleb is an active three-year-old boy living life to the fullest. Thanks in large part to the generosity of blood donors.

“I can’t imagine our lives without him. For a while we were worried about planning his funeral, and now I got to sign him up for pre-school,” Jen said, with a smile.