Two strangers and donated blood saved Debbie’s life

Posted 11/5/21

Debbie Cogswell recounts her harrowing medical emergency,

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Two strangers and donated blood saved Debbie’s life

Debbie Cogswell
Debbie Cogswell

In order to promote awareness of the upcoming 16th Annual Okeechobee Blood Roundup to be held at the Freshman Campus Auditorium on Nov. 20 and 21, we share stories of local Okeechobee folks who have received donations of blood and the difference it made in their lives. Debbie Cogswell recounts her harrowing medical emergency and how she attributes her survival in no small part to the donated blood she received and two strangers whom she calls her angels. This is her story:

“It was a cold and snowy night in Bradford, MA on Nov. 11, 1976. I woke up in the middle of the night with a stomach ache and assumed it was food poisoning since I had eaten at a fast food restaurant that evening. The pain became so excruciating that I knew I needed to get to the hospital quickly; however, my car was not working so I could not drive myself and I did not have a telephone so I could not call for help. The only way I could get to the hospital in Haverhill was by walking. Hunched over in pain, I got about halfway across the bridge over the river between Bradford and Haverhill when a red car with two young men in it stopped and asked me if I needed a ride. I gratefully said “Yes” and they dropped me at the ER entrance of the hospital.

It was determined that I had appendicitis but the surgeon was hesitant to perform surgery because I had a severe respiratory infection that required intensive breathing treatments be administered before they could give me anesthesia. My abdomen became extremely distended and painful and, when the surgery finally began, gangrene due to the now ruptured appendix began spurting out of the small laparoscopic incision initially made in my abdomen by the surgeon. To make a long story short, I spent two weeks in the hospital and, during that time, I had tubes entering and exiting my body: IV’s in both arms, blood transfusions, morphine pump, nasogastric tube, catheter and a sump pump in my abdomen to get rid of the gangrene. I was really scared when a priest was called into my room to perform the last rites ritual.

If it had not been for the two strangers – my angels - in the red car, the hospital staff, and the people who donated the blood that I received during my ordeal, I do not believe I would be alive today to tell this story. Unfortunately, I cannot donate blood due to Hepatitis B antigens in my blood but I do want to take this opportunity to thank the generous and thoughtful blood donors in the world; without them, millions of people would not survive their medical emergencies.”

Please thank Debbie for sharing her story by donating the gift of life – your blood – at the 16th Annual Okeechobee Blood Roundup on Nov. 20 and 21, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Freshman Campus Auditorium. All blood donors will receive a commemorative Roundup T-shirt and the FIRST 200 donors will receive a goody bag donated by The Hoskins-Turco Law Office. Make an appointment on line at or call 1-888-9-DONATE.

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