People who have been in accidents and suffered massive blood loss may need multiple transfusions of red blood cells.
In 2006 the Wellington student planned to visit his family in Palmerston North for 3 days. He ended up spending 3 months in hospital after a cycling accident nearly cost him his life. Geoffrey needed blood and plasma from over 50 blood donors to survive.
In February of 2006, 20-year-old Geoffrey was performing jumps on his mountain bike with friends in Palmerston North. On one attempt, Geoffrey misjudged a jump and fell heavily, catching his stomach on the handlebars before crashing to the concrete. Geoff was knocked unconscious by the force of the impact.
While very sore after his crash, Geoffrey was unaware of the extent of his injuries. After cycling back to his friend’s house, Geoff’s mates were less than sympathetic: “They said I needed training wheels and that I was soft!” Geoff tried to drink a beer, but began feeling very ill so asked to be taken to his parents place, 20 km away.
Geoffrey’s father arrived home a short time later to find his son in excruciating pain. He took Geoffrey to the doctor immediately but the doctor was unable to help, as all of Geoffrey’s injuries were internal. At this point Geoffrey was rushed to hospital.
“I felt like I’d been punched by a heavyweight boxer. I couldn’t walk, the pain was totally unbearable!”
The last thing Geoff remembers was going into the x-ray room. He had to undergo several operations in order to save his life, during which Geoffrey was given blood from approximately 50 blood donors. He woke up 5 days later after being placed in a drug-induced coma. Doctors told Geoffrey he had ruptured his kidney, burst his spleen and lost a huge amount of blood.
Geoffrey’s parents were very distressed during the 5 days Geoffrey was unconscious. His mother even offered to donate her own kidney should Geoffrey need a kidney transplant. Fortunately, the surgeons were able to save both Geoffrey’s kidney and spleen and he has now completely recovered.
“Blood donors saved my life – if it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be alive. I want to make people more aware of my story so they know how important it is to donate blood.”
While Geoff never donated blood at high school, he says he’s learnt “you just have to give blood, as you never know when it will come back to you.” The near-death experience made a mark on Geoffrey in another way – the surgery left him with an impressive scar on his stomach reminiscent of a Mercedes logo. “I always get comments on the beach - “dude that’s a gnarly scar…that’s the baddest scar!”
Geoffrey –has also made a special video message for blood donors, viewable at www.startafanclub.co.nz (external link) The website is part of a campaign by the New Zealand Blood Service and showcases video, text and photo fan mail from some of the many Kiwis who've had their lives changed by blood donors.