Give for Texans – Kirk’s Story

Kirk Hunter and wife

Silver Anniversary Turns Golden with Lifesaving Platelet Transfusion

Kirk Hunter did not realize chemotherapy patients needed blood transfusions; that is, until his oncologist said Kirk required one.

Diagnosed with an aggressive form of lymphoma in the summer of 2011, Kirk began a “very harsh regimen” of chemotherapy to fight the disease. Treatments were administered in the hospital every three weeks over a six-month period.

It was during his second round of treatments that Kirk got the eye-opening news: He would be a transfusion recipient.

In the decade since, Waxahachie residents Kirk and his wife, Maureen, have gained first-hand knowledge and appreciation for the donor-to-recipient experience.

In his own words, Kirk shares his story and gratitude for blood and platelet donors:

As the nurse hung the bag on the stand, I noticed the tag which indicated blood type and where the blood came from. I started thinking about how the safety of the blood supply is ensured and the logistics of moving this precious resource around to where it was needed – for surgeries, accident victims, war victims – and now chemo patients was on that list.

As I watched the pump slowly meter the blood into the port in my chest over the next eight hours, I became very much aware and very appreciative of those who selflessly give blood. My daily ritual began including a prayer for those folks.

About halfway through my chemo treatments, the doctor told me my morning blood test indicated a dangerously low platelet count. He expected this, so it was not a surprise. I knew a little about the purpose of platelets: they help stop bleeding. I also knew that without platelets, a minor bump or even a sneeze could become serious.

The nurse soon brought in a bag of golden yellow fluid, my lifesaving cocktail. It was also tagged with the date and location of the donor.

I learned from the nurse about all the various components in blood that are used besides whole blood, such as plasma, red blood cells and platelets. Again, my appreciation grew for those who selflessly gave this vital resource.

Over six months, I had about 10 platelet transfusions.

The most memorable transfusion was on the event of our 25th wedding anniversary, which is in late November.

I was about a month from completing the entire chemo treatment cycle. I was at home on a break and I was exhausted. I wanted this to be over.

That morning, my wife and I were preparing for a special dinner at home when I got a call from the doctor, who told me I needed a platelet transfusion ASAP. There was some urgency in her voice. She cautioned me to not use a knife or do anything that might injure me to cause bleeding. She arranged for a platelet transfusion at the ER in our local hospital.

That platelet transfusion was the most precious anniversary gift my wife and I could have ever received. It was truly a “golden” anniversary. I know 25 is traditionally silver, but this changed everything. My wife and I celebrated that evening with a quiet dinner at home and overflowing gratitude for life and the generosity of strangers.

In early 2012, my oncologist started to use the term “cured.” It has now been 11 years since I completed those treatments and there is no evidence of disease.

I hold an incredible amount of gratitude for blood donors and for the entire team of folks who make this precious resource safe and available.

I will likely never meet any of my donors, but I want to say “THANK YOU” for your precious gift of life. Thank you for being a blood donor.

Additional resources

Q&A on platelet donation

Why patients fighting cancer might need transfusions

Benefits of being a Carter BloodCare blood or platelet donor

The need is nonstop for platelets, blood and plasma. You can make a lifesaving difference for neighbors in need by scheduling an appointment to donate at a Carter BloodCare donor center or mobile blood drive near you, or call 800-366-2834 today.

Your experience as a Carter BloodCare donor or recipient can save lives by motivating others to donate. Please share your experience and Tell Us Your Story.