Published on September 10, 2018

Meet a long-time blood donor who became a recipient

Meet a long-time blood donor who became a recipient

Nancy Ferguson continued a family tradition when she first donated blood at the age of 16. Since then, she has given dozens more times over the years.

Ferguson gave out of community spirit – never suspecting that she and a loved one would both become blood recipients.

“I have four older brothers and when they started donating, I asked them why. One of them told me, ‘People get in accidents. People get hurt. Bad things happen and you can’t control them. This is one thing you can do that might save a life.’ That really stuck with me, so I started to give when I was old enough,” she said .

“My father started the tradition of being a long-term donor, so on Sept. 11, which is his birthday, our whole family goes. Those who can’t donate find a way to volunteer.”

Life changed in an instant for Nancy one night in August 2016, when she was driving home from her job as a restaurant manager.

“It was my boss’s birthday and I told him go home early,” she said. “I stayed to do an inventory. On my way home, I was hit head-on by a drunk driver.”

In the impact, her left acetabular (the socket of the hip joint) and other bones in her left leg were shattered. Ferguson was taken to Falmouth Hospital and then was transferred to designated trauma center in Boston.

She ended up having blood transfusions twice, during surgeries for her hip and ankle.

Her Blood Donors

What would Ferguson do if she ever had the chance to meet someone who had donated some of the blood that ended up helping her?

“I would say ‘Thank you for saving my life’ and then I would hug them for a solid 10 minutes,” she said.

Ferguson needed a year to recover from the accident and then had to change jobs, so she wouldn’t have to spend long shifts on her feet. She started as a front desk agent at the Holiday Inn in Falmouth and is now catering and sales coordinator.

Even before her accident, Ferguson had witnessed the importance of blood transfusions. Her father received transfusions during heart surgery and her boyfriend needed a total blood transfusion when he suffered a blood infection while being treated for throat cancer.

“I don’t think enough people realize that giving blood saves lives, even though almost everyone knows someone who needed a transfusion,” she said. “I understand that some people don’t like needles, but it really doesn’t hurt and it doesn’t take much time. You never know whose life you might be saving.”

Needing a blood transfusion is  “like getting hit by lightning – You never think it will happen to you,” said Jonathan DeCoste, senior blood donor recruiter for Cape Cod Healthcare, whose son, Jack, is a blood recipient. “Nothing drives home the importance of donors like needing a transfusion or knowing someone who needed one.”

Learn more about donating blood and upcoming Cape Cod Healthcare blood drives.