ASHLAND – Although Trisha Rogers has donated blood before, she now understands just how important the pints of blood she provided were to someone else.

During the last half of 2019, Rogers endured multiple blood transfusions while she waited for a liver transplant and received eight pints of blood during the surgery.

“It was a lifesaver, for sure,” she said.

As 2018 drew to a close, the 36-year-old starting feeling sick. The whites of her eyes took on a yellow cast.

Trips to the hospital became frequent. She was always tired. Her liver enzymes were not normal. Her body started to retain water. Soon she was placed on the waiting list for a liver transplant.

She was a special education teacher for Omaha Public Schools, but soon she was too tired and sick to be able to do her job. She left her home in Omaha and moved back to her hometown of Ashland to live with her parents, Terry and Leisa Rogers.

The doctors weren’t sure why Rogers was so sick. One theory is that medicines she began taking after a spontaneous heart attack in March of 2018 may have been to blame.

Rogers was on the transplant list for a little over three months. She said it was a difficult time. She underwent multiple tests to be sure her heart was strong enough for the surgery and that she was emotionally ready for the procedure.

“It’s pretty mentally draining to you,” she said.

She had multiple blood transfusions during that period.

“Because my hemoglobin numbers would become so low,” she said.

During her transplant, doctors had to give Rogers eight pints of blood. She said she has learned through a support group that large amounts of blood are often needed for liver transplant surgery and during transfusions before the procedure.

The transplant was a success for Rogers.

“I’m doing much, much better than before,” she said.

But there are still some bumps in the road. She has difficulty gaining weight and has a feeding tube to help. Her immune system is suppressed, so she is susceptible to germs and viruses. She recently battled her second case of strep throat infection since the transplant.

“It’s super easy to catch anything,” she said.

Rogers’ goal is to get well enough to go back to work.

“I really miss teaching and I want to return to teaching for sure,” she said.

Rogers is on anti-rejection medicines, and will be for the rest of her life. Ironically, they will prevent her from being able to donate blood again.

She urges others to donate in her place, so someone else can receive the gift of life that blood donation can provide.

“It truly saved my life,” she said.

Donors can step up to the plate next week, as Wahoo hosts a two-day American Red Cross Blood Drive. It will be held on Feb. 19 from 12 to 6 p.m. and Feb. 20 from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Wahoo State Bank Shed, located at 570 N. Elm St. in Wahoo.

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