Heroes in Action: Laura Terranova, Blood Recipient, Blood Drive Sponsor and Blood Donor

By: Jonathan Sandstrom, American Red Cross

On Saturday, March 23, 2019, the American Red Cross in Connecticut and Rhode Island will honor blood drive sponsors, blood drive volunteers and blood donors who help save lives at the 14th Annual Red Cross Heroes Ball. To celebrate, we will be hosting a series “Heroes in Action,” on our blog. The series will highlight some of our Red Cross Ball Heroes and share how you can get involved.

Members of Laura Terranova’s family have been involved with the American Red Cross for 30 years in a variety of ways. As volunteers helping before, during, and after disasters and as volunteer blood donors, you could say the Terranova Family had the Red Cross in their blood.

Laura Terranova

Laura became a blood donor at 17 years old and has donated 79 pints of her own blood at  Red Cross blood drives over the years, just a few shy of the 10-gallon mark. “I always wanted to be a donor, especially after learning you could help save up to three lives with every donation,” Laura said. “I wasn’t really involved in a lot of things during college when I started donating,” Laura said. “I started doing it to honor my grandmother.”

When she was donating, Laura never thought about the possibilities of perhaps NEEDING blood. “It’s one the things you don’t think about but you’re happy it’s there,” she said

Three years ago, the time came when she did need blood and lots of it. Laura suffered cardiac arrest and underwent three open heart surgeries in three months to battle cardio myopathy. During that time, she needed more than 20 units of blood. Today, Laura is healthy and happy, due in part, to blood donations.

Laura is currently unable to donate blood, but where one door closes, another usually opens. Instead of being a donor, Laura has turned to hosting blood drives at her company. It’s something she’s done for a year and a half. “Now, as a blood recipient myself, it makes it all more real to me,” she said.

So far, she’s held three drives at her company. “This was an easy way to give back,” Laura said. “Being able to host drives at my company makes me feel happy. It’s very important to do our part. The Red Cross is always there during crises helping. In a small way I’m helping them help others.”

While Laura has been busy hosting blood drives, another generation of the family has also joined the donor ranks. Terranova’s daughter began donating after Laura’s hospitalization.

Laura and daughter
Laura Terranova and her daughter, Emily Castagna.

To those who are hesitant about getting involved with donating or sponsoring drives, Laura said it really doesn’t take much time to be involved. “People at blood drives are so welcoming,” she said. “Just knowing you’re helping is a good feeling. Hosting is a great way to be involved in the community as well.”

Laura will be attending the Red Cross Heroes Ball for the first time this year as the Red Cross honors blood drive sponsors, volunteers and blood donors. “It will be fun to intermingle with all the other people who have received blood and other services and those who donate their time and skills to the Red Cross,” said Laura. “I’m honored people do donate blood. They helped save my life. It’s kind of surreal. I’ve come full circle.”

In Laura’s eyes, “It’s so easy to give blood and help other people. When they gave me the sticker after my first time saying you’ve saved up to three lives it gave me a great feeling, knowing I’ve made a difference in someone else’s life.”

Help us honor blood donors, like Laura on March 23, 2019 at the 14th Annual Red Cross Heroes Ball. For more information and tickets, visit www.redcross.org/RedCrossBall. To become a blood donor or to sponsor a blood drive, visit www.RedCrossBlood.org.



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