“I Need Transfusions to Stay Alive”: Debra Taylor’s story

Debra Taylor story

For Debra Taylor, blood donations are critical to keeping her alive. Taylor was recently diagnosed with a rare condition called severe aplastic anemia, and since her bone marrow doesn’t make enough red blood cells, she needs regular blood transfusions.

We spoke with Taylor, an occupational therapist, about what it’s like to need blood transfusions and how blood donations truly save lives.


Q: How often do you receive blood transfusions?


A: I’ve been receiving either one or two units of blood, or one unit of platelets, every single week since September 2020.

Each week, I get my blood drawn to determine where my red blood cell levels are and whether I need a transfusion. There’s never been a week where I didn’t need something. Some days, I even need two units of blood because my levels are so low.


Q: Why do you need blood transfusions?

A: I need transfusions to stay alive. With blood platelets, having between 150,000 and 400,000 platelets per microliter of blood is considered normal. Today, I was at 33,000 platelets. Two days ago, I was at 7,000. If my platelet levels go below 10,000, I get a platelet transfusion. I get a blood transfusion depending on my hematocrit and hemoglobin levels. If I don’t get a transfusion, I could die or bleed out with something as simple as a minor injury.


Q: What message do you have for people thinking about donating blood?

A: Without blood, I’ll die. And others like me will die. My message is simple: Please donate. Because millions of people need it.


Q: What gives you hope?

A: People in my situation can get very depressed. Since I’m severely immunocompromised, I can’t go anywhere, especially with the risk of COVID-19. But I feel hope in the promise that I may be able to get a bone marrow transplant soon that will help me, or that someday, I will be healthy enough to even donate blood myself again.

For now, the thing that’s kept joy, happiness and love in my life is my grandson. He just turned 6 months old. His face gives me a reason to keep going. I want to watch him go to kindergarten and high school and so on.

I also try to treat my transfusions like a day at the spa. The transfusion center provides me with a heated chair that reclines. I have my own TV. Hot chocolate. They always ask if I need anything. It’s scary how low my levels get, but the transfusions keep me alive.


Ways you can help Taylor and others

Like Taylor, many patients rely on life-saving blood donations. Our Blood Donor Center helps patients heal and recover from conditions, including fractures, pregnancy, lung disease and more. If you can’t give blood, there are other ways to help, including hosting a blood drive or spreading the word about the need for donations.



To Donate Blood
For an appointment to donate call the LHAAMC Blood Donor Center at 443-481-4215. To have a blood mobile drive at your next function (i.e., community or church function), call 443-481-4272.