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Dec. 6, 2022
The when, where and why someone needs blood is largely unpredictable.
In the case of Jill Barnett, just 17 years old at the time and understandably more focused on graduation and college admissions than donating blood, she had no idea just how vital a healthy blood supply could be to saving her own life.
“I was a typical kid,” Jill says. “I’m sure when they did blood drives around town, I thought, ‘That’s a really serious thing.’ … But I certainly had never given blood at that point or really given it much thought. It was like one of those things you see on TV in a super horrific accident or trauma. That’s what you thought about, but certainly not something where you think, ‘This could happen to me.’ ”
Until it did.
It was Election Day, and Jill was a senior at Lincoln County High School in Stanford, Kentucky. Although she had the day off from school, Jill had a part-time job at a department store and was headed to work.
On the way, Jill was involved in a serious car accident. She shattered her pelvis, experienced a traumatic brain injury and suffered from internal bleeding. Jill was airlifted to UK Hospital and endured several surgeries that required blood transfusions over the following days.
“I was very, very fortunate to have the blood and the doctors and the trauma team at UK that I had,” Jill says.
With the lifesaving blood and the care of University of Kentucky doctors, Jill was able to go back to school a few months later and graduate on time. She went to college the next fall.
Given a second chance at life, Jill – a regular blood donor at Kentucky Blood Center – is now the general manager at Lextran, the public transportation bus system serving Lexington, Kentucky.
“Once you’re on the other side of it, you realize how important it is,” Jill says. “When you think about someone who was 17, had that blood not been available, that could have been a life-or-death choice.”
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