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Local woman reminds us all why it's important to donate blood

A local wife and mother is thanking those who give the gift of life, and are hoping her story inspires others to keep giving. (WKRC)

CINCINNATI (WKRC) - A local wife and mother is thanking those who give the gift of life, and are hoping her story inspires others to keep giving.

Pat Kelly is a wife and mother who was living her dream as a flight attendant when one day she found out she needed a bone marrow transplant to survive. Since then, she's had quite a journey. Now, she's raising awareness of what's needed before, during and after these transplants to save lives.

Local 12 met up with Pat at Jewish Hospital-Mercy Health when she came in to see her medical team for a blood transfusion.

"I have received numerous, numerous blood transfusions," Pat said.

Those transfusions help her fight a complication that comes from getting a new immune system from a bone marrow transplant. Unfortunately, that new immune system has attacked Pat's body, and she has developed graft-versus-host disease, or GVHD.

Pat chronicled her journey in a scrapbook to say 'thank you' to the donor that saved her life and to raise awareness of GVHD.

"[GVHD is] different for everybody, and a lot of people don't even know what it is," she said.

Pat later had the wonderful opportunity to meet that donor, and she shares her story now so that others will know that they really do make a difference with blood and tissue donation. Her donor was a stranger who she didn't know until recently.

To everyone who is a blood and platelet donor, Pat wants you to know that every day you keep his gift alive.

"We can't do a transplant without blood donors," said Dr. Jim Essell. "There's a period of time after chemo where they don't make blood; they need red cells and platelets just to survive."

Pat's now getting medication and a form of light therapy to help her body fight back. Between the two, she's much better.

While this disease she says may at times challenge her body, she has an important message for all of us:

"You got to get on with your life, with what you've got. They call it the new normal, so my new normal is my new normal, and for everybody else, it's different."

Call 513-451-0910 or visit any Hoxworth Blood Center to learn more or to donate.


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