JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Most people enjoy celebrating a birthday — whether it be for the cake, balloons, party or presents.
For Action News Jax producer Darling Hill, each year on Earth is a gift in itself.
Back in 2018, Hill started getting sick. She couldn’t eat and her weight was dropping dramatically. Doctors told her she contracted a virus. It began affecting her organ and red blood cells.
“The doctors said, I only had a few hours left to live,” Hill said. “They said, there was really nothing they could do besides try a blood transfusion, and with that being our only option, we gave it a shot.”
Hill said she noticed an immediate difference. She said she was able to sit up and even had an appetite. However, her road to recovery was just beginning.
“I needed help eating, showering, walking — those everyday things — I couldn’t go back to work for three months,” Hill said.
Fast forward to 2021. This upcoming Saturday, she’s celebrating her 25th birthday. Her personal journey is the reason she donates her time with the Jacksonville-based nonprofit, LifeSouth.
Right now, blood banks, nationwide, are struggling amid the coronavirus pandemic, after blood drives and other fundraising events were canceled due to COVID-19 concerns.
Action News Jax has been telling you about the decline in donations since March 2020, when COVID-19 first rocked the country.
“We’ve seen about a quarter or 25% decrease in our blood donations,” Karen Patterson, LifeSouth’s Community Development Coordinator, said. “A lot of people don’t realize blood has a shelf life. So, we continuously need donors to roll up their sleeves, and really help us save lives.”
The requirements to donate are:
- You must be 17 or older
- If you’re under 16, you must have parent permission
- You must weigh at least 110 pounds
- Bring a valid ID
It’s safe to both receive and donate blood if you’ve received the COVID-19 vaccine, according to LifeSouth staff. You can find the closest blood bank to you, as well as any pop up sites on LifeSouth’s website.
As for Hill, Action News Jax reporter Meghan Moriarty asked her how she would react if she was ever able to meet the people behind her lifesaving donation.
“Tears of joy and thanks, because they were selfless enough to think about someone else, and to give the gift that I’m able to live and keep living,” Hill said.
Cox Media Group