Sonya saves lives... one blood donation at a time
Except for a few slip-ups, Sonya Binns Lawrence has been donating blood every three months since the 1980s and will be making her 100th contribution today - making her the top female blood donor in Jamaica.
Speaking with The Gleaner after being recognised at the Kencot Seventh-day Adventist Church in St Andrew, which she attends, the phlebotomist said she could not imagine living her life any other way.
"It all started when I had to give blood to my sister, who was having a baby at the time, and since then, I have never stopped," she said.
"After working at the blood bank over the years, I recognised that it was a safe procedure. You can't catch any form of sexually transmitted disease through giving blood, so I started giving on a regular basis," she continued.
Lawrence said that she was especially grateful for the lives being impacted through her service.
"I look forward to giving blood every three months. I remember an elderly lady called me saying that she was in dire need of blood. She was in Clarendon so she had to send someone for it. They came straight to the blood bank, and a few weeks after, she called expressing her gratitude, and it felt really good."
Sharing her near-death experience, Andrea Stanley, who was among supporters who attended the service on Saturday, used the opportunity to appeal to Jamaicans to take some time to donate blood even once a year.
"On the third of October 11 years ago, which was my birthday, I was eight months pregnant and started experiencing complications. I was told that I needed to get two blood donors, so I got the donors. But little did I know that things would just turn upside down in such a short space of time," she recalled.
"I ended up in the hospital and the doctors told me that my haemoglobin was 1.2 (grams per decilitre) and they had to do surgery immediately. I needed blood so badly everything shut down. I ended up in the hospital for 10 days and was on life support in ICU (the intensive care unit).
She added: "Thankfully, I received 200 donors. I received 39 units and I am alive today. A lady came in the same night and didn't make it and she only needed four units. You don't know who's life you could be saving when you give blood. It could be your very own."