Sheri Wentz, Blood Recipient
Sheri Wentz, a Concordia University Nebraska (CUNE) alumna, was just 31 years old when she became what she calls “an answered prayer.”
Sheri was 12 weeks pregnant, miserable with extreme morning sickness, and caring for her 10-month-old infant Alice. Sheri was so sick and weak she was unable to eat, so her doctor gave her a feeding tube. She returned home, but instead of getting better, her health continued to decline.
In early December, blisters started appearing on her hands and feet and she developed a fever. Sherri checked into the hospital immediately. She had a staph infection caused by her feeding tube. One week later her body was septic, and she was experiencing congestive heart failure. Sheri underwent emergency heart surgery. Doctors replaced a valve in her heart, and replaced her infected blood with donated blood.
In the days that followed, Sheri developed pneumonia, her bowels quit working, and she experienced severe pain. Her body went into labor, but doctors were unable to save her unborn child. Sheri needed more donated blood, as well as platelets. As doctors operated, her vitals dropped and she crashed on the table.
“It’s incredible I’m even here to share my story,” Sheri said. “I didn’t realize how sick I was. I remember the doctor told me he used an internal defibrillator 12 times to resuscitate me because I was so young and he knew Alice was home waiting for me.”
The morning of December 24, Christmas Eve, Sheri, her husband Mark, and Alice finally made the trip home.
“It’s amazing to think about how many people in our community came together to see me through this, from the people who donated blood for someone they didn’t even know to the members of our church families in Lincoln and Sterling who rallied together to pray and take care of my family.”
GENERATIONS OF GENEROSITY
Sheri learned about blood donation from her mother, who for many years served as a laboratory technician at Syracuse Medical Center and regularly saw the need for blood. Her mother was an avid blood donor and often told Sheri when she made a donation.
“I knew it was something she did, but it never really clicked that I should be doing the same thing," said Sheri. "I am so grateful there were people around who did. Because now, almost 20 years later, I have been so blessed.”
Due to the medications she takes, Sheri is ineligible to donate blood, but that hasn’t stopped her from sharing her story—especially with her daughter Alice, who's now a student at CUNE. Because of her mom’s experience, Alice knew from an early age that donating blood is important. After learning more about the process of blood donation at school, she was eager to donate as soon as she could. She started donating when she was in high school at Lincoln Lutheran.
“Every year in December we have a family day with Mark, Alice and I to celebrate Christmas together because we missed it that year,” Sheri said. “We set aside time to remember the baby we lost, and to be thankful we are still together because people were willing to give to others.”
Alice has set a goal to donate 22 units of blood (or more) in her lifetime—the same amount her mother received. Her dedication to blood donation has also inspired Mark to start donating. Between the two of them, they’re well on their way to reaching that 22 unit goal.
“Alice has such a big heart; it’s awe inspiring,” Sheri said. “We raised her to be a caring individual and the fact that she wants to give back in that way makes me see she’s paying it forward. We’re very proud of her.”