Teen shares story of survival to inspire blood donors

Jamie Anders, a 2012 Power of Life Scholarship recipient, is pictured in a promotional photo for the Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center (Photo courtesy of Robert Dabbelt)
June 24, 2012 3:40:28 PM PDT
Jamie Anders is starting a new chapter in her life. She recently graduated high school and is now heading off to college, but she almost never made it this far.

The 19-year-old from Weimar is one of 20 recipients of the 2012 Power of Life Creative Scholarship from the Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center, and she caught their eye by sharing her own experience as a two-time heart surgery survivor.

Jamie was born without a valve in her heart. Her first open heart surgery happened when she was just 10 days old.

"The pediatrician noticed something was wrong almost immediately," her mother, Patsy Anders, said. "They scooped us up and took us off. She was in the ICU while we waited for a donor valve to come in."

Donated blood was in the operating room -- just in case.

"That was one of the things they told us right away, that they would have blood there in case it was needed. In case anything went wrong," said Patsy Anders, who is now a regular blood donor. "Blood was the least of our worries because of that."

Jamie said that she was also thankful the blood was there -- both times -- although it wasn't used. She was too young to remember the first transplant, but she was 15 when she received the second donor valve.

"It was scary. I questioned everything," Jamie said. "But it's relieving to have the blood there just in case something goes wrong."

Jamie has made a complete recovery since her last surgery, and she hasn't let her heart condition hold her back. In school, she was active in FFA, track, golf, volleyball and dance team.

"I have no restrictions. I can do whatever I feel comfortable doing. I don't even take medicine," she said.

Now at 19 years old, Jamie feels healthy, happy and ready to begin the rest of her life.

She moves to Bryan in August to attend Blinn College. She plans to become a dental hygienist. In addition to scholarships from FFA and other organizations in her hometown, the $1,000 scholarship from The Blood Center will help her endeavors.

"I'm very excited and very honored that [The Blood Center] selected me," Jamie said. "I worked very hard on it."

The 2012 Power of Life Creative Scholarship program was open to any high school senior attending a school that participates in The Blood Center's Power of Life program by hosting at least two blood drives during each school year. The contest asked students to use their imaginations to submit an original project that educates and inspires individuals to "Commit for Life."

Submissions ranged from recorded songs to websites to essays, and were judged on content, creativity, accuracy and persuasion.

"We were looking for someone who could really compel people to donate blood," Cortney Martin with The Blood Center said. "We didn't require that they were a donor or a recipient. They just had to have a story that we could share with people to encourage donations."

Jamie's entry for the scholarship was in the form of a video that told her story they said caught their attention immediately. She was rewarded one of the scholarships and will be featured in promotional materials, including a television commercial for The Blood Center.

Jamie and her mother said they are grateful to blood, organ and tissue donors everywhere. Without donations, Jamie wouldn't be where she is today.

"Not only does it make you feel good to do the right thing and help others in need," Jamie said in her video. "But donating actually does save lives. Look at me."

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Congratulations to all 2012 Power of Life Scholarship recipients. The full list of winners is below. Click the highlighted names to see their entries:


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