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Great Falls woman saved by blood transfusions

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Posted at 8:39 AM, Jan 26, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-26 11:54:41-05

GREAT FALLS — January is National Blood Donor Month and with a current nationwide shortage, it’s important to emphasize just how important giving blood can be in the event of another’s crisis.

Take Denise Burk for example. She’s worked at the US Bank in Great Falls for the last 10 years, and has made numerous volunteer contributions to the town, serving on a number of boards. Most recently, she’s joined the Red Cross Board, inspired by her own personal experience.

In 2021, Denise was diagnosed with breast cancer. She instantly began chemotherapy and radiation treatments. In the middle of her rounds of therapy, doctors noticed Denise’s red blood cell count was critically low.

“I did not do well with chemo, and I got very, very sick,” says Burk.

She soon became anemic and developed a serious pneumonia infection, putting her life at further risk. It was the 10 separate transfusions of blood which saved her life.

“Had someone not not been kind enough to help a stranger, I probably wouldn't be sitting here,” says Burk. “The gratitude in my heart for those that have donated and helped me to continue to be the person I am, the mom, family, friends that I can be, that really is astounding to me.”

Currently the national blood shortage has been exacerbated by severe winter weather and cold and flu season.

“In January alone, we've lost about 15,000 units across the country because of blood drives canceled because of winter weather,” says Regional Comms Director for the Red Cross, Matthew Ochsner.

For reference, one unit is one person. At this rate, there would be a shortage of blood from roughly 180,000 individuals. According to America’s Blood Centers, every two seconds an American requires a blood transfusion.

Tapping into first time donors is incredibly important, yet they only make up 26 percent of all those who give blood. Overall, three percent of Americans donate but if just one more percent of the U.S. population donates blood, the shortage would be alleviated and individuals just like Denise will no longer have to want for blood.

If you would like to schedule an appointment to donate blood, visit RedCrossBlood.org, or call 800-733-2767.


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