The holiday season is meant to be a time of happiness and hope. But Catherine “Cathie” Filar never could have imagined that Christmas 1990 would be spent in the hospital.
On December 20, 1990, Cathie was in the car with her mother and newborn daughter when another driver hit their car, forcing them underneath a semi. Tragically, Cathie’s mother and baby daughter lost their lives in the accident. Cathie was rushed to Loyola University Medical Center, where she received blood transfusions to replace what she lost in the accident. “I received a gift that I never knew I wanted or even knew that I needed,” she says. She spent three days in a coma and, over the course of her four-month hospital stay, endured multiple surgeries, re-learned how to walk and received Teflon injections in her paralyzed vocal cords.
After she recovered from her injuries, Cathie, who has O negative blood—the universal donor type—wanted to find a way to pay it forward. “I didn’t know before my accident how valuable O negative blood is,” she says. “Though it was awesome to receive such a gift, it is true that it is better to give than receive. So, I started donating blood.”
Cathie has donated 63 times and counting, with no plans on stopping anytime soon. She enjoys her regular visits to Versiti Blood Center of Illinois’ Elgin donor center and is keen to set a good example for her three granddaughters. “I’m really lucky,” she says. “It doesn’t cost anything to give blood—just a couple of hours.”
“If I could make it through my accident, I can do anything,” she says.
People need people, make a difference in someone’s life by donating blood.
We must rely on each other for the gift of blood, and patients in your community rely on the generosity of Versiti’s blood donors to help. Please consider scheduling an appointment to donate. If this is your first time, donating blood is quick, easy and relatively painless. And, it is a great way to give back and help patients in your community.