’Blood donors helped to save my life’
Schaumburg woman tells her story at blood drive
Geri Schwind cuts right to the chase.
While discussing a blood drive that was held this past summer at The Barn in Schaumburg, Geri admits she wouldn’t be alive today if it wasn’t for people willing to give blood.
“Blood donors helped to save my life,” she said. “I am here, able to tell my story, because of the blood I received.”
Geri’s “story” is one of overcoming the odds as her recovery from a near-fatal car accident has amazed even her doctors.
While on vacation with her husband Harold and another couple in 2010, Geri was in the passenger seat traveling on a Georgia expressway to Charleston, South Carolina. Geri, who was 72 at the time, unfastened her seatbelt to retrieve a road map that had fallen to the floor of the vehicle. As Geri was reaching for the map, another vehicle abruptly swerved into their lane and struck the car at approximately 75 mph.
The impact forced Geri’s vehicle to overturn and roll two-and-a-half times before coming to rest in a ditch. After the first roll, the door of her vehicle was ripped off and Geri was ejected. She said the car nearly landed on her as it flipped a second time, but luckily sailed over her battered body.
Geri sustained 27 broken bones and multiple internal injuries. She broke her pelvis in three places and bones around her eye and referred to one of her ankles as being “crushed.” She doesn’t remember much in the time immediately following the accident but does recall overhearing first responders discussing her condition with a grim outlook.
“They didn’t give me much of a chance to survive,” she said. “I could hear them talking and I was just thinking ‘I’m still alive.’”
Geri was airlifted to the Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah, Ga., where she was placed in a medically induced coma.
“[Memorial University Medical Center] is a teaching hospital and I was the perfect patient because I had so many things wrong with me there was something for every department to study,” Geri said. “I’m sure they were thrilled to have me because along with the broken bones, my liver and lungs were also damaged.”
During her stay at Memorial, Geri said she needed “multiple units of blood” to recover from her injuries. After a month at Memorial, doctors declared Geri fit to fly and a special plane was chartered to take her to Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights. The Schaumburg resident still had a long road to recovery as she would spend another month at Northwest and then five months at ManorCare.
The lasting impact of the accident is that Geri requires a walker and has issues with balancing.
“But I have become pretty independent,” she boasts. “I don’t have any balance so I need to use the railings when I go up and down, but I am able to get around.”
A committed LifeSource donor with 44 lifetime donations — 32 prior to her accident — Geri is now even more passionate about giving blood. A friend from St. Marcelline Catholic Church coordinated a blood drive with LifeSource this past summer and asked if Geri would be willing to attend the drive and share her story. It was a request she was more than happy to accept.
“I’m really looking forward to the drive to meet the donors and let them know just how important their blood donation is,” Geri said prior to the blood drive.
For those who have never rolled up their sleeve and given a pint, Geri has a few words of encouragement.
“I’ve been giving blood for years and it has never affected me,” Geri said. “All you feel is a little pinch and that is it. I always feel good after donating because I know it is going to help someone in need.
“I strongly recommend it.”