ASBP: When a Headache Becomes a Medical Emergency
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When a Headache Becomes a Medical Emergency

By Jeffery Diffy, ASBP Blood Donor Recruiter, North Chicago, Ill.
Navy mom Shannon Stewart is a survivor from a medical emergency that could have ended badly. When she suddenly became critically ill, medical intervention and blood donations made the difference.

“On April 30, 2006, I woke up with what I thought was just a normal headache because I had really bad headaches all the time,” she said. “I had been planning on taking my kids — Courtney, Jon and Duncan — roller skating with my boyfriend and his daughter. We decided to go because I really thought I would be better soon.”

Stewart said she doesn’t remember much about the trip except one of the boys giving her one of his shoes to hold.

“At some point I suffered a seizure from bleeding in my brain caused by a ruptured brain aneurysm,” Stewart said. Stewart was transported to the hospital where she would go through two brain surgeries to repair and stop the bleeding in her brain. Because of the amount of blood she lost, she was given multiple transfusions.

“I am grateful that people go out and give the gift so that others like myself are given the chance to fight,” Stewart said. “I spent several weeks in the hospital, but thankfully am here today to tell my story and share in my son, Duncan’s, success.”

Knowing how important blood donations were for his mother, Seaman Recruit Duncan McDonald donated blood with the Armed Services Blood Program March 31 while attending boot camp in Great Lakes, Ill.

McDonald will attend “A” school in Groton, Conn., for sub school once he graduates from boot camp in Great Lakes, Ill., April 21.

“Sometimes we have to give what we can so that people like my mom can have moments like she will at my graduation,” McDonald said. “I’m looking forward to marching into the drill hall. It’s important that we help others so they can have the opportunity to experience special days with those that are important to them.”

“I am so proud of Duncan, not only for his contribution to the Navy but (because) he donates blood any chance he is given,” Stewart said. “He is a true hero, like so many others who give. It is so important that we all do our part by giving blood so that others like myself are given a fighting chance. I can’t thank all of you who do give blood enough for what you do. From the bottom of my heart, thank you!”

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 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.