Overcoming War, Sickness, & Struggle – My Mother’s Heroic Story

By: PaKou Lee, Social Media Intern

“Who is your hero?”

I’m sure you’ve been asked this question before, whether it was for a school essay, speech presentation or in your daily conversations. There are so many different and amazing answers: celebrities, super heroes, a family member or a stranger… the list is endless.

My mother. She is my hero. When I think about my mother, she is definitely heroic. Her story is incredible. And here’s why:

My mother, Mao Moua, at Christmas time!

During the Vietnam War, the Hmong people aided the United States by rescuing downed pilots and fighting where America needed them. The Veit Cong were hunting down the Hmong people because of this. Can you imagine running for your life in the jungles of Laos? You’re holding your children’s hands, hoping they don’t make any noise. Fearing that if your child cries of hunger, the sound will attract the enemy that carries a deadly weapon. Then you have to think quickly as to how you and your family are going to swim across the Mekong River to get to the Thailand border, where temporarily freedom awaits. (I always imagine trying to swim across the Mississippi River, which is crazy!). You beg for your life to get on a boat. You find ways to build a boat out of bamboo. All of these thoughts and images cross my mind when I think about my mother. I don’t think I would ever be able to handle what she and my older siblings went through. I have a better life because she survived the war. 

I was in elementary school when she started studying for her citizenship. She barely spoke English, she knew the basic ‘yes and no’ and so forth, yet she still struggled. She played her tape cassette all day long, listening and learning about what was going to be on her citizen test. She would repeat the questions and answers to herself, “Who was the first president of the United States? George Washington.” My mom passed her test and became a citizen. She studied and practiced so hard, she deserved every bit of it. I was so proud of her.

My mother passed away when I was twenty. I think I was a junior in high school when she was diagnosed with chronic kidney failure.  She had dialysis three times a week, 3-4 hours a day at DaVita. During my first two and half years of college, I scheduled my classes around her dialysis schedule so I could go with her. I don’t know how she did it. I wasn’t even the one receiving dialysis and I was always exhausted during and after. There were times when we stayed overnight for a few days at the hospital every month. It was definitely a roller coaster. Her blood sugar was too low or her blood pressure was too high. Something was always wrong.

I remember when she received her first blood transfusion. The nurse explained the process and consent forms. I had to explain it to my mom in Hmong. She teased me because I couldn’t pronounce a Hmong word correctly or couldn’t find the right term. It was a good laughing medicine.

I want to thank my mother’s heroes: the nurses, doctors, and especially the blood donors. Without your generous donations, I’m not sure what would have happened. But I’m glad my mother was able to receive it and be able to live. Thank you for helping my hero stay alive and be a little bit stronger for me. I’m so thankful to be a part of the American Red Cross and to have Jody Weyers be my mentor. I’ve met amazing people and new friends through this internship. I’m so proud to be a Red Crosser!

#BeAHero

Bleed green and gold at Packers Blood Drive on Nov. 8

SAMSUNGFootball fans are known for their unwavering dedication to their favorite team – especially fans in Wisconsin. Now, the American Red Cross is asking Packers fans to dedicate themselves to helping patients in need by donating blood Nov. 8 at the Green Bay Packers Blood Drive at Lambeau Field.

All presenting donors will receive a giveaway item and be entered into a raffle for a chance to win prizes. All blood types are needed, especially types O negative, A negative and B negative.

Green Bay Packers Blood Drive

Nov. 8 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Lambeau Field – Legends Club Room, 1265 Lombardi Ave. in Green Bay, Wis.

To make a donation appointment, please call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit redcrossblood.org. Free childcare and parking will be available.

“The Red Cross thanks the Green Bay Packers and all their loyal fans for supporting those in need by donating lifesaving blood over the years,” said Greg Novinska, CEO of the Badger-Hawkeye Blood Services Region. “We ask that community members continue to show strong support by giving blood and helping ensure cancer patients, trauma victims and surgery patients have the blood products they need.”

The need for blood is constant. On average, the Red Cross must collect about 15,000 pints of blood every day to meet the needs of patients in Wisconsin and across the country.

Those attending the blood drive will also have an opportunity to send a holiday message to a service member. Preprinted cards will be available to sign as part of the Red Cross Holiday Mail for Heroes program. Holiday Mail for Heroes enables Americans to pass along holiday greetings to active-duty service members, their families and veterans and at hospitals and installations around the world. To learn more about the program, visit redcross.org/holidaymail.

How to donate blood

Simply call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit redcrossblood.org to make an appointment or for more information. All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental consent in some states), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.

Blood Donations Urgently Needed

 

Suzi Hass, giving her 5th Gallon at the Northern Door YMCA Blood Drive.

Severe winter weather has forced the cancellation of 23,000 Red Cross blood and platelet donations since January 1.  More than 2,600 Mid-America Blood Services Division donations, serving 330 hospitals in the Midwest and parts of the central United States, are among the cancellations. 

All blood is needed, especially types O negative, A negative, and B negative.  Donations will be used first to meet any shortages at local hospitals.  Any remaining supplies will be moved through the Red Cross national network to where they are most needed.

The Red Cross asks all eligible donors to please make an appointment to give blood or platelets as soon as safely possible.  Your donations will help save lives. 

For a schedule of February donations click here.  For more information call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit redcrossblood.org.