Blood transfusion patient: 'It's life or death'

By Stacy

JAMES ISLAND, S.C. (WCIV) -- Betty Burn's life depends on other people's blood.

"If she didn't have blood transfusions, she would die," said her daughter-in-law Roni Burn.

"I got too much living left to do," Betty Burn said.

Betty Burn was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome, otherwise known as pre-leukemia, 18 months ago. She since retired as a DNR mailroom clerk.{}

Roni Burn doesn't get paid to work, but she does have a full-time job: taking care of Betty.

"She's pretty much wheelchair-bound now," Roni Burn said.

She has doctor's appointments three times a week. One of those usually results in an order for a blood transfusion. Each unit of blood can take four to five hours to transfuse. And there are days when she needs more than one.

"It's a tedious process and something we have to do. There's no choice," Roni Burn said.

Burn takes solace in the fact that she feels like she earned her help from others; it's a sort of karma that keeps her alive.

"It's rewarding to her that she has given blood all her life and now she's been in such need that she realizes even more how important it was for all these years for her to give blood," Roni Burn said.

But there are days when they worry there could be a shortage. Roni Burn wanted everyone to know how important blood donations are in keeping people like Betty alive.

"It's not just waiting for some catastrophe or bad thing. It is a part of someone's every day, normal life that blood has got to be available for them to live," Roni Burn said.

Doctors initially gave Betty six to 18 months. She's outlived that prognosis.

"She's a very strong person. She's gone through cancer, she's had breast cancer, colon cancer, everything and always gone through it with a smile as much as she could. I think part of it, getting this far, is just her own perseverance," Roni Burn said.

Now, she's hoping to make it to September for her granddaughter's wedding.

The American Red Cross blood drive takes place Thursday from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. at Northwoods Mall in North Charleston and Citadel Mall in West Ashley.

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