A Yakima mother tells how donated blood saved her son’s life

By Gordon Williams 

Americans donate 14 million units of blood and blood products each year–with 40 percent of that collected and processed by the American Red Cross. Every drop of that donated blood has the potential to ease suffering or even to help save a life. 

Here is the real-life story of one young man whose life was saved by donated blood–as told by the patient’s grateful mother. If you are thinking about donating at a Red Cross blood drive, but have not, perhaps this story will prompt you to do so. Somewhere in America, a unit of blood is transfused every two seconds. If you donate, it could be your blood that saves a life–as those who donated blood helped save the life of young Braedon Simon. 

Here is Braedon’s story, as told in her own words by his mother, Nichole Simon of Yakima WA: 

“This is truly a tragic and heartbreaking story,” she writes. “My son was in a horrible motorcycle accident when he was just 26 years old. His adult life was just beginning, and I feel like it was so unfairly ripped away from him. He was an EMT, and an ER Tech, who was super close to the Firefighting career, he had been working so hard for since he was 17 years old. 

“An SUV traveling in the opposite direction, took a left-hand turn in front of him at the last second, while he was traveling 45mph, without enough warning to do anything. Despite wearing good bike gear from head to toe, he had multiple fractures all over his body. His pelvis was broken in so many places he bled out on the way to the hospital.  

“My child received so many miracles that day. For one, there was a medic onboard the ambulance with the EMTs. They have a broader scope of practice so they can administer medication to help restart the heart, and intubate patients to resuscitate them more successfully. Also, the ambulance crew made the correct call that day by taking him to the hospital. Normal protocol would have been to fly a patient that critical to Harborview, our Trauma One hospital 20 miles away. But, thank God those first responders knew he wouldn’t have made it. Instead, he was taken to the nearest Trauma Two hospital, Tacoma General. 

“Upon arrival, he immediately received 12 units of blood and scored a three on the Glasgow trauma test. That is the lowest possible grade and meant he was in a coma–a  state in which he stayed in for about three days. Braeden spent three weeks in the ICU, two weeks in critical care, and seven weeks in in-hospital rehabilitation.  

“He had 10 surgeries while there. He’s had two more since leaving the hospital. He has permanent nerve damage from his right knee down to his foot which causes foot drop, and debilitating nerve pain. But No brain damage! No spine damage or paralysis! 

“He was told he probably wouldn’t walk again. But you don’t tell Braeden that he can’t do something. He is the most determined, relentless, unstoppable person I know. I KNOW that 95% of us could not go through what he has gone through, and continues to go through every single day. It has been one year and eight months now. It has been such a long journey. I couldn’t be any prouder of Braeden. He’s such an inspiration to many. The mental courage and strength it must take to keep persevering through this amazes me. My Son is My Hero. So as you can imagine I feel a real need to give back. Those initial 12 units of blood literally saved his life!  

“Throughout his surgeries and the first few weeks of ICU he would randomly get another unit of blood here or there. I think he got about 20 total. I am incredibly thankful. My sister started “Braeden’s Team” in his honor so we could give back. My personal goal is to replace at least the 20 by myself. Thank you for allowing me to tell my story.” 

Blood donors, somewhere, gave the blood that saved Braeden’s life. The blood you donate might go to save another life–a cancer patient, perhaps or someone with sickle cell disease–or maybe an accident victim like Braeden. In just the time it took to read this story, hospital patients somewhere in the United States, received 100 or more units of life-saving blood.  

To find a blood drive in your area, go to http://www.redcrossblood.org. Anyone 16 years old or older, and in generally good health, can donate blood. There is no upper age limit for giving blood; you can donate no matter how old you are.  

January is #NationalBloodDonorMonth, a time to celebrate the impact of blood and platelet donors during one of the most difficult times of year to maintain a sufficient blood supply. Join this lifesaving mission by donating with the Red Cross this month: rcblood.org/donate 

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