ASBP: Great-Grandfather was Shot Down; But This Recruit’s Navy Heritage is Flying High
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Great-Grandfather was Shot Down; But This Recruit’s Navy Heritage is Flying High

02/03/2017
By Jeffery Diffy, ASBP Blood Donor Recruiter, North Chicago, Ill.
Navy grandmother Debrah Murphy has a military family background and much to be proud about. Her grandson, Seaman Recruit James Klob, will continue the family’s military tradition and graduate from boot camp Feb. 10.  

But her life hasn’t always been easy. In 2008, she shattered her left leg and needed blood transfusions several times. However, after she got her first unit of blood, she had a reaction.

“They had trouble finding my particular type and had to go to blood banks all over the state to find four pints that were compatible to me,” Murphy said. “I was given all four of those pints and was very grateful to the people who gave me the gift of life.”

Today, Murphy is happy and healthy and eager to watch her grandson follow in her father’s Navy footsteps.

“His great grandfather was in the Navy during World War II,” Murphy said. “He was a tail gunner on a Navy plane that was shot down in the ocean and he spent the last of the war at the Fitzsimmons Army Medical Center in Aurora, Colorado.”

In 1975, Murphy completed a medical technologist internship at the same medical center. While there, she worked several blood drives for the hospital and for Lowry Air Force Base.

“So I know the importance of having a transfusion and what it means to those who need the blood or the components that can be derived from the blood,” she said.

2008 wasn’t the first time Murphy needed blood. She received her first blood transfusion in 1972 after she hemorrhaged during child birth.

“All went well except I picked up a couple of odd antibodies somewhere along the line,” Murphy said. “Most of the time that would not be a problem, but when you add the other medical problems that I have, then somewhere down the line you can definitely run into problems.”

Murphy said her immune system doesn’t work as it should. She has been a Type I diabetic since the age of 11 and has had systemic lupus erythematosus for the same amount of time. Both are auto-immune diseases affecting different parts of the body.

“Now in 2003, I was diagnosed with the beginning stages of osteoporosis; and in 2007 I was told that I had severe osteoporosis,” Murphy said. “In December of 2008 I stepped off of the bottom stair and split the knee of my left leg and shattered the leg above it. The doctors put a plate and 13 screws in my leg to put it back together along with some superglue to hold the pieces together. I lost a lot of blood and required several pints of blood after the surgery.”

However, Murphy had something called pernicious anemia —a condition, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, that is a “decrease in the red blood cells that occurs when the intestines cannot properly absorb vitamin B12.”

“They gave me the first pint about an hour after the surgery was over and within 30 minutes I had a severe transfusion reaction,” she said. “I swelled up, turned very red, had chest pains, a hard time breathing and started running a temperature of 104 degrees. They stopped the transfusion and took some blood to find out what the problem was because the transfusion work up done prior to giving me the blood said it was compatible.”  

After doctors were able to find four matching units, they transfused the blood slowly and kept a close on her throughout the process. According to Murphy, the only problem she encountered was a high fever.

“Because of all my health problems, I would have died without the transfusions because I was not making enough blood to start with. And if there had not been all of those people who donated those pints of blood, even the ones that I was not able to use, someone surely benefitted from them,” she said. “I can't give blood. I have never been able to give blood because of my health, but I would have if I could have done it.”

Klob grew up in Phoenix, Ariz., and will attend “A” school to train to become a missile technician in Groton, Conn., after he graduates boot camp.  

Before he enlisted in the Navy, he was a stage manager of his high schools plays, and enjoyed working behind the scenes. He also enjoyed making wood projects on a lathe.

He supports the Armed Services Blood Program and will continue donating blood when he arrives at his first command. 

“I feel like it is a duty to help out shipmates,” Klob said. “I always donated blood while I was in high school. Every time I donate, it makes me feel like I am a hero for someone. I also donate blood because of what my great-grandfather endured from being shot down. Some in his group did not survive the landing in the ocean.”

About the Armed Services Blood Program
Since 1962, the Armed Services Blood Program has served as the sole provider of blood for the United States military. As a tri-service organization, the ASBP collects, processes, stores and distributes blood and blood products to Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and their families worldwide. As one of four national blood collection organizations trusted to ensure the nation has a safe, potent blood supply, the ASBP works closely with our civilian counterparts by sharing donors on military installations where there are no military blood collection centers and by sharing blood products in times of need to maximize availability of this national treasure. To find out more about the ASBP or to schedule an appointment to donate, please visit www.militaryblood.dod.mil. To interact directly with ASBP staff members, see more photos or get the latest news, follow @militaryblood on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube and Pinterest.  Find the drop. Donate.

The Armed Services Blood Program is a proud recipient of the Army Maj. Gen. Keith L. Ware Public Affairs award for journalism.