MIDDLETOWN, Ohio – When Madison Junior Senior High student Hannah Tuttle learned she couldn’t donate at her school blood drive because of her heart condition, she decided to have a heart-to-heart talk with her doctor. “This is something relatively painless and could help three people, so why not do it?” she argued. “Unless I have something stopping me, I’ll do it.”
That “something stopping” Hannah is called tachycardia, which typically refers to a heart rate that exceeds the normal range. “My heart beats too fast,” explained Hannah. “They started me on medication to raise by blood pressure, so my heart doesn’t have to work so hard.”
“She’s been seeing a cardiologist for about two years,” said Hannah’s mom Laurie Tuttle. “Her heart skips beats, she had a hard time keeping her blood pressure up, and she passed out a lot.”
Certain medications, a low blood pressure reading, or an irregular heart rhythm are all reasons that anyone might be deferred from donating blood. There are many more common reasons, especially among high school age donors, that typically lead to deferrals at blood drives. But Hannah is a serious-minded young person who likes to study all sides of an issue before making her decisions. Even though her interest in helping others might not be best for her own health, she wasn’t taking no for an answer.
“She called Community Blood Center (CBC) and checked with her doctor,” said Laurie. “He wanted her to come in to see him. She sat there and gave him a good argument about the importance of giving blood. He said, “OK. If we do some paperwork and if you follow some guidelines – OK.”
With that, Hannah not only became a donor, she set out to become a CBC Red Cord graduate by registering to donate at least three times before finishing high school. She made her first donation at the Madison fall blood drive as a sophomore, a month after turning 16. She made her second lifetime donation at the Madison fall blood drive last year. Two down, one to go.
She expected to make her third donation at the Madison blood drive in the spring of her junior year, but was deferred. Now a senior, she hoped to donate at the Madison fall blood drive Thursday, Nov. 8 but was deferred again. “I haven’t been deferred because of my low blood pressure,” she said. Instead, the issue is an irregular heart rhythm, and both times it’s been a surprise and a disappointment. “I can’t be sure,” she said. “I don’t feel my heart skipping at all.”
Simply by registering to donate Hannah has earned her Red Cord to wear at graduation, but that’s not the way she wanted to accomplish her goal. Once again, she’s not giving up.
Like most high school seniors, she has a busy year to complete. She’s a member of the National Honor Society, which sponsored the Thursday blood drive, and she went from volunteering at the drive to taking a calculus quiz. She is learning to play the clarinet and has three parts in the school play this weekend.
She admits to being a little worried that the heart condition she is managing may keep her from donating, but she will try again at Madison’s spring blood drive. Since becoming a donor, her aunt was diagnosed with cancer and began receiving blood transfusions. That’s a challenge Hannah sees as more serious than her own, and she is determined to help.