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Accident survivor promotes giving gift of life

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As a Supervisor of Blood Donor Recruitment Resources for the American Red Cross’ Southwest Region, Alison Cook has the American Red Cross in her blood. Literally. 

The life-threatening injuries she sustained in a roll-over car accident, just after graduation from Marcus High School in 1997, required replacement of 12 of the 14 units of blood in her body.  Without an immediate and sufficient supply of blood on-hand, to stabilize (or refill) trauma patients like Alison, there is no hope of life.

Alison’s family received the phone call every parent dreads: “Get here as soon as you can.” Her family tells her she was awake when they arrived, though Alison has no recollection of the first several months following the accident.  Twelve units low and without time to cross-match her blood-type; Alison attributes her ability to survive those first critical hours following the accident directly to the hospital’s supply of O-negative blood, the ‘universal donor blood type.’

Alison spent the first month in a medically-induced coma and another two months she described as ‘touch and go.’ She suffered severe abdominal injuries, and her chances of survival, much less the ability to have children one day, were very low.  In all, her recovery process took over 12 months, 25 units of blood and countless surgeries.  

“Much of that year was a ‘Waiting Room’ life for my family,” says Alison, “and a foggy, painful time for me, but I am profoundly appreciative and humbled by the love and support the Flower Mound community showed us.  Neighbors and family friends took care of the details of daily life so my parents could help me. The community even had three blood drives, in my honor, collecting 300 units of blood,” Alison added.

The fact is that Alison’s parents have played an integral role in giving back to Flower Mound for more than 24 years.  Her father, Eric Metzger, is Flower Mound’s Fire Chief, and that may also explain some of Alison’s penchant for a professional role in community service. Of her childhood, she says, “We rarely celebrated a holiday dinner without his pager going off, calling him to help someone in the community with a fire or emergency.  We grew up feeling a part of something bigger than just ourselves.”

Today, Alison carries that mantle of service as Donor Resources Manager, in charge of blood collection for the American Red Cross, statewide.  She travels widely, sharing the Red Cross’ message there is a constant need for blood and the role donors play in saving lives. 

“Someone needs blood every two seconds, nationwide,” Alison says. “Your donation will make a difference in someone’s life!  In fact,” she continues, “donating one unit of blood will save the lives of three people, yet only 5% of the population donates blood and only 1% donates regularly.  My job is to work with everyone else, to find those who just don’t know how vital their donation will be and others who can help us organize new groups to donate regularly!”

Today, Alison and her husband are expecting their first child: a child and a grandchild that might never have been born. Think of the ripple effect those 1997 donors have had. Do you have 45 minutes to relax? That’s all it takes to give blood, painless but profound.

For more information about how and where you can donate or be involved in organizing a donation, visit www.redcrossblood.org.

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