Blood donors save lives. Every blood center across North America will stand behind those words because it’s a known fact. Most blood donors donate blood because they believe it. But few have had the privilege of meeting one of those people they’ve saved. A little over ten years ago, Mr. David Read came in and donated blood, as he and his wife, Charleen, have been doing since their college days in the late 1960s, early 1970s.
“[Donating blood] is a good thing to do,” Mr. Read said. “It’s a Christian thing do, at least for me.” But Mr. Read has never really thought about the actual patients he may have helped through the years with his blood donations. After that particular donation he went home and didn’t think about it again.
However, not long after that donation, Tina and Anthony Bethany noticed their three month old son, Lane, wasn’t feeling well. He wasn’t eating and his breathing was rapid. Thinking it was probably a cold, Tina took him to his pediatrician—who took a blood count which revealed little Lane was severely anemic. He was checked into the hospital immediately and given a transfusion. Tina and Anthony were told had they waited even two more days, their son would have gone into cardiac arrest. That one unit of blood literally saved Lane’s life.
Doctors weren’t sure what was causing Lane’s illness but they told his parents the worst case scenario was Diamond Blackfan Anemia. After a month long process of elimination, the worst was confirmed: Lane was diagnosed with Diamond Blackfan Anemia—a disease so rare that only a thousand or so cases of it have been reported worldwide.
When Mississippi Blood Services (MBS) put in motion for a few donors to meet some of their recipients, Lane’s story was a natural choice.
David Read said of the phone call he received from MBS: “It was surreal. I know I am just one of many. Maybe it’s just coincidental.”
“I don’t think it was coincidence,” Tina Bethany said. “God’s in control. Nothing’s random. I have thought about that blood donor for over a decade. So much is involved [in blood transfusions]. It was such a critical moment—had you for some reason decided not to…”
Tina learned that blood has to be matched and screened. David’s blood was the right type and it was available. Lane couldn’t wait for the hospital to find a donor, for the blood to be processed (a two day procedure) and then have the transfusion.
While there are other donors with the same blood type as David Read (and Lane Bethany), no one knows when their unit of blood will make the difference between life and death. In this case, David Read’s one unit of blood impacted the lives of Lane, his mother Tina, his father Anthony and his older sister Leeann.
Throughout his young life, Lane has had to have numerous blood transfusions—and his parents are active in holding blood drives to make sure blood is available for Lane and other patients when they need it. There is no substitute for human blood and it is one of the body’s most vital components. It’s simple: if blood isn’t there when a patient needs it, they’ll never need it (or anything else) again.
“It’s good that people all around the country donate blood,” David Read said.
Tina agrees. “Ten years ago sitting in the hospital, not knowing…”
Over a decade ago, David and Charleen were regular blood donors who donated because it was the right thing to do. Today, they still donate. Whenever their church, the Meadowbrook Church of Christ, holds a blood drive they can be counted on to roll up their sleeves, make a fist and save lives. It’s just something they do, expecting no reward, no recognition, no brass bands.
Over a decade ago, Tina and Anthony Bethany found out just how crucial blood donations can be when their three month old son needed blood. To them, blood donors are heroes—they really do save lives. Lane is living proof.