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Jennifer Klein, Blood and Platelet Recipient, Breast Cancer Survivor

When breast cancer fighter Jennifer Klein showed up for another round of chemotherapy, she was instead instructed to go to Bryan Health immediately for a blood transfusion. Her level of hemoglobin—the proteins that transport oxygen in your blood stream—had dropped to 8.7. The normal range for women is 12-15.

“I felt run down and slow and I could hear my heart beating in my ears all the time, even when trying to sleep. I thought it was just part of the treatment,” she said. “I never imagined I would need a blood transfusion. I always associated receiving blood with a tragic accident or an injury.”

Jennifer was diagnosed with cancer in 2015 at the age of 32. Over the course of her year-long cancer battle, she needed two blood transfusions and one platelet transfusion.

“The thing about chemo is that it doesn’t only impact the cancer cells, it impacts everything—red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets; everything just gets depleted,” she said. “I got to the point not once, but twice where my body was so worn out that I couldn’t receive chemotherapy and I had to spend 6 or 7 hours at the hospital receiving a blood transfusion instead. They needed my body to recover enough to continue the necessary treatment to kill the cancer.” 

Having donated blood available at her local hospital was vital to staying on top of the cancer and ultimately beating it. 

“Luckily for me, there was blood on hand, and I didn’t have to wait for the next day or the next week. I was simply able to get it and go and there was no further delay in my treatment.”

In total, Jennifer completed 20 weeks of chemotherapy, underwent a 4-hour procedure that included a port removal, sentinel node biopsy, double mastectomy, and immediate one-step reconstruction, and 33 sessions of radiation. By the end of 2015, Klein was finally cancer free. 

“When you donate blood, it is not a matter of if someone will need it, but when,” Klein said. “By taking just minutes out of your day, you are giving someone more years. I am so grateful for the people in this community who donate blood.

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Jennifer Klein speaks on behalf of Nebraska Community Blood Bank (NCBB) during the annual United Way/CHAD campaign to encourage employees to support the United Way Impact Fund. Formerly CHC-NE, CHAD raises charitable contributions through workplace giving to support the missions of its member charities. In Lincoln and Omaha, the organization partners with United Way. If you’d like to have Jennifer speak to your organization or to learn more about supporting the mission of CHAD, please contact Kari Lundeen or 402-486-9427 or visit www.chadnebraska.org.