I was recently asked to become the ambassador for the forthcoming Gift of Life Marathon, set to begin next week on Dec. 10, and saying "yes" to this was one of the easiest decisions I have ever made. Just a little more than a year ago, I was injured in an explosion while on vacation, causing many life-changing injuries, including the loss of both my legs.

As we rushed from hospital to hospital, there were many moments during which no one knew if medical care was going to be enough to save my life. There were many moments my family would look at me and think they might be about to lose me. Every doctor and surgeon who has gotten to know me has only been able to describe my survival as a miracle.

I know it is a miracle because I remember the feeling of knowing that all of a sudden, I was less than inches away from dying, but I am thankful to our skilled doctors and surgeons, as well as the modern medicine and advanced equipment we have been able to develop that saved my life, including the life-saving routine of blood donations. I know without a doubt, I could have had the best surgeons, the best equipment and have been at the best hospital in the world, but without the resource of available donated blood, they still couldn not have saved my life.

I had lost so much blood that my organs had begun to die, which ended up leaving me in kidney failure. My medical records refer to me receiving “massive transfusion protocol” and my family members remember me receiving blood transfusions, as I lay in my hospital bed, almost every single day. These selfless people, whom I will never know, who made the choice to go to a blood drive, roll up their sleeves and donate blood, simply saved my life.

I am forever thankful to everyone who made the choice to donate blood. I understand that heading out to a blood drive in the midst of our busy lives might feel like an inconvenience, but I hope that hearing from someone who has survived because of blood donations will make the reward of donation even greater. I would hope that after donating, you will know there will be someone out there, just like me, who will be forever grateful to you.

My life has changed in so many ways since I was hurt, but it is still full of love and happiness, joy and laughter, accomplishments and pride. The beauty of it all, is that despite good days or bad, I am still here, able to live it.

Please come out and participate in the Gift of Life Marathon on Dec. 10, 18, 19 and 20. You can make an appointment by either going to www.redcrossblood.org or by calling 800-RED-CROSS.

Stefanie Schaffer, who lives in Rutland, was told she would never walk again, but is quickly mastering the skill on new prosthetics.

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