I helped organize a blood drive at Louisiana State University recently partly because I wanted to help a community organization but, more important, because I received 13 pints of blood when I was ill and want to start giving back.
Robin Ceppos donating at LSU in Baton Rouge, LA
I received the blood while I spent 17 days in the intensive-care unit of a hospital in Northern California (where I grew up) when I was 15 years old. I was suffering from acute hemorrhagic pancreatitis, a sometimes-fatal disease that often is caused by alcoholism. (Mine was caused by a prescription-drug interaction, not alcohol!)
Seven years later, at age 22, I found myself working on a service-learning project with six other public-relations seniors at LSU in Baton Rouge. The seven of us are working with the Louisiana Center Addressing Substance Abuse in Collegiate Communities during our final semester of our undergraduate degrees. The organization provides programs and research initiatives to foster safe and healthy collegiate communities and eliminate the negative consequences from alcohol consumption and drug abuse.
As a group, we decided that hosting a blood drive made perfect sense because some alcoholics need transfusions, because of pancreatitis, cirrhosis of the liver or other diseases. But, for me, the decision to organize a blood drive was personal. I wouldn’t be alive if others had not decided to give blood.
I gave my first pint of blood on Monday, April 7, 2014. Ms. Beth Chaudoir-Guidry, a representative of LifeShare Blood Centers in Baton Rouge, spent a lot of time planning the blood drive with the seven of us. Ms. Beth helped me decide that I want to give at least 14 pints during my lifetime—to more than pay back the people who saved my life.