Photo courtesy of Ann Langley.
Laura Langley’s uncle, Bob Whitehead, donates blood in her memory.
Five years after her death, Laura Langley continues to save lives.
The 2007 Oak Mountain High School graduate had just completed her studies at the University of Alabama and died due to injuries from a car accident on June 3, 2012. More than 50 units of blood were used in the attempts to save her life, and her family, including parents Jim and Ann Langley, has turned their loss into a way to save the lives of others.
The Fifth Annual Laura Langley Blood Drive will be this month. Ann Langley said if this drive is as successful as the previous ones, more than 1,000 lives will have been saved with blood donated in her memory.
“Blood is critically important for many people on a scheduled and anticipated basis,” Ann Langley said. “I’ve come to be friends with a young mother at First Christian Church who has a chronic health condition that requires transfusions monthly.”
That friend is Molly Springfield. The 37-year-old mom of two was diagnosed with hypogammaglobulinemia in 2005. The immune disorder is characterized by a decrease in gamma globulins, including antibodies that fight infection. While research on this disorder has been done over many years, a real diagnosis wasn’t reached until the 1990s.
“I don’t have an immune system,” Springfield said. “I grew up military and got sick frequently. I was never seen by the same doctor, so no one could connect things.”
Springfield became so ill in 2005, she nearly lost her life. As a last ditch effort by her pulmonologist, the last test they ran revealed her diagnosis.
She depends on regular blood transfusions to live, receiving treatment every 21 days at the Cancer Center at St. Vincent’s. She has a port in her chest, and the treatment takes more than eight hours.
“I receive chemotherapy, but it is a blood product, IVIG, that comes from plasma,” she said. “For a very, very small amount of immunoglobulin, it takes thousands of donors. If there are no donors, then there is no plasma and no immunoglobulin.”
While Springfield did not get to meet Laura Langley, she became friends with Ann Langley when she started attending First Christian Church two years ago.
“I never thought that I would be the one receiving it [blood donations],” Springfield said. “Without blood, I would not be here guaranteed.”
Langley said she appreciates Springfield’s family members supporting their blood drive.
“They appreciate how vital blood donations are for an entirely different reason than what my family experienced,” she said.
Due to her condition, Springfield can’t work or be around people. Her doctor suggested that she home-school her daughters, ages 5 and 9, but she wanted them to be able to attend public school.
“You just come to a point where you have to decide, are you going to live in a bubble,” she said. “I have to make very controlled decisions about what I do with my daughters. There are things we have to do that seem ridiculous. When they come home from school [at Inverness Elementary], they have to take a shower. I’m also in constant contact with their teachers to find out if anyone in their class is sick.”
The Fifth Annual Laura Langley Memorial Red Cross Blood Drive will be Aug. 27 at First Christian Church from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.