Glenburn man shares how blood donations helped save his life

Published: Dec. 8, 2022 at 6:50 PM EST
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GLENBURN, Maine (WABI) - Between wrapping presents, decorating the tree, and baking cookies, the holiday season can get busy, fast. It’s no wonder blood donations are in short supply this time of year. All month long, we’re teaming up with the Red Cross to bring you stories that show why donating blood is so important.

Steve Ismail of Glenburn was an avid biker. He never anticipated being in a crash, especially not on the roads he knew so well.

Last year, Ismail’s life changed in the blink of an eye. It’s a life he admits he’s lucky to still have, thanks to the strength of his family, his care team, and to those who took time out of their busy schedules to donate blood.

“My wife and I just went for a bike ride. There was nothing special that day. That basically I died that day, got back to life. And then the amazing crew at Northern Light found a way to keep me alive in a situation where I never should have been,” said Ismail.

On September 16, 2021, Steve Ismail and his wife Brooke were out training for the Dempsey Challenge when they were hit by a car.

The driver said he was blinded by the sun and never saw them.

“The next thing I know, it was Christmas. I had woken up and was in the CCU of Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center,” Ismail said.

Ismail spent more than nine months in the hospital, enduring nearly 30 surgeries. When he was finally discharged in June 2022, he says he was overwhelmed by the show of support.

“My understanding, and again it’s what I was told, that it was the largest celebration walk in Northern Light history,” said Ismail. “It was mobbed. You couldn’t move.”

As Ismail continues to work through exactly what happened, he recently went back and read his medical records for the first time. He says he was shocked to discover the level of care he required initially.

“In the actual ER trauma bay, I had 12 units of blood products given to me. Thirty by the end of the first day. My case was so critical that I required so much blood over the first few days that there was talk about restrictions because I cleaned out the blood bank, and Eastern Maine is a huge hospital. It’s a trauma center, but I required so much that was a problem within the hospital,” said Ismail.”

Steve, Brooke, and their two kids say their biggest message to the community is: ‘Thank you.’

“If people hadn’t donated, in my case, 60 people in the first day, I wouldn’t be here. So, I know this time of year the holidays are crazy, but we’re all busy. There’s a million things. It’s so important to donate because you never know when that point is going to save someone’s life,” said Ismail.

As you travel to see family and friends this holiday season, the Red Cross is asking you to include them in your plans, too.

Visit and enter your zip code to find a blood drive near you.