By Elizabeth Godwin, volunteer contributor, American Red Cross North Texas Region
Michael Thompson, 21, has donated blood but never imagined he would be a recipient.
“It’s kind of eye-opening to be able to see what actually happens when you contribute. It literally saved my life,” he said.
On May 30, Michael and his father were riding their motorcycles to church when a car came into their lane. Michael was struck by the vehicle and rushed to the hospital. Although surgeons attempted to save his leg, Michael made the decision to have it amputated one week after his accident.
The transition from active young man to amputee has not been easy, but Michael handles it with resilience. He credits a fellow amputee and motorcycle rider with helping him adjust.
“It’s really nice having somebody who’s been through the exact same event that I’ve been through,” shared Michael. “Seeing him get around and living life pretty much like normal gives me more hope.”
Just months after his accident, Michael received his prosthetic leg and is learning to walk and ride again. Doctors didn’t expect him to walk until December, but Michael is eager to do the things he used to and more–including playing sports and riding with his motorcycle club.
“None of that has to stop because of what happened,” he said. “I’ll probably do more than I ever did with two legs just because I can. The only thing that’ll change is I’ll push myself even harder.”
In addition to his renewed perspective on life, he has a one-year-old daughter to keep up with. “She’s walking and I’m learning how to walk,” Michael said.
Not only has the accident changed his life, but his family’s. Michael admires his wife for donating blood despite her fear of needles.
“She’s terrified of needles but seeing me go through this, she’s wanted to give back,” he said. “I’m grateful for the people who do it.”
While Michael strives to support others, he in turn receives support from his family, church, motorcycle club and employer. His church held a blood drive in his honor on Aug. 7, and his wife gave blood.
On Oct. 2, he participated in a blood drive and charity event for RISE Adaptive Sports sponsored by his motorcycle club, Iron Legacy, Terrell, Texas, Chapter, and employer, Terradyne, in Carrollton, Texas. RISE is an inclusive adaptive recreational sports program that assists persons with physical challenges.
“We’re a really giving community,” Michael said.
In some ways, Michael is thankful for his situation because he’s able to relate with children and young adults in RISE. “It allows me to connect with them on a deeper level and show them that what they want to do is possible,” he said.
To others who have experienced something similar, Michael encourages them to “Keep your head up and understand that life has changed. But change doesn’t always mean a bad thing. Your only limitation is your mind and if you can overcome that you can do whatever you were doing before–even more so.”
Michael also encourages others to donate blood. Please visit RedCrossBlood.org to schedule an appointment.