Donated blood saves Michigan woman from devastating diagnosis

Recipient says she is 'so grateful' to her donors

WORTH TOWNSHIP, Mich. – Jeannie Talarico thought she needed new glasses.

Talarico trains horses at her farm in Worth Township, Mich. One morning, she noticed things just didn't look right.

"I had noticed that my vision had gotten a little blurry, and I thought I probably needed a change in my prescription in my glasses," said Talarico.

But as the doctor began to check her vision, it quickly became clear something was drastically wrong.

"The eye doctor said that my eyes had hemorrhaged severely, both of them," said Talarico. "He said to go directly to the emergency room."

After many tests, many doctors and a misdiagnosis, Talarico was ultimately diagnosed with a cancer called Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia. It's a type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

"What happens is your blood gets thick," said Talarico. "That caused me to hemorrhage and even my organs were beginning to shut down. I was so scared. I was terrified, absolutely terrified."

She underwent a bone marrow biopsy.

"Everything went fine, and I got home, I started bleeding and bleeding and bleeding. It wouldn't stop," said Talarico. "I went into the hospital, and I had lost so much blood at that point that I needed a transfusion."

She prayed as she waited for the blood to be prepared.

"I was laying on the table praying, thinking I didn't know if I was going to make it," she said.

Donated blood saved Talarico that day, as did the plasma she would also need. Intense chemotherapy eventually killed the cancer.

"It's really been a long road, but I have to say I'm well," said Talarico.

It's been a life-changing experience for this mother of two and grandmother of seven.

Three of Talaricos grandchildren share a special sign they made during her illness.


Three of Talarico's grandchildren share a special sign they made during her illness.

"The things I used to think were important are not important," said Talarico. "Your family's important. God is most important to me. The people you love are what matters."

She's back to enjoying the horses she loves.

"Sometimes I just go out there and cry like tears of joy because I'm so excited about being on my horse and being back out in the barn, and even cleaning stalls," she said.

Talarico competing on horseback during healthier times.


Talarico competing on horseback during healthier times.

Talarico is forever grateful to the strangers who will never know they gave her a second chance.

"Before I got ill, I didn't think about giving blood, ya know, until I was the person that needed it, and I thought, 'My gosh, what if there wasn't any blood?' I just ask those people out there that can give blood to donate and don't stop donating," said Talarico. "I am just ever so grateful for you taking the time to give, you have no idea what you've done for me, and I just want to say, 'Thank you.'"

There is an urgent need for blood right now in southeast Michigan. Donors with types O negative, B negative and A negative are especially needed. Platelet donors and type AB blood donors are also being asked to help ensure the shelves are stocked for patients.

To donate, visit www.redcrossblood.org or call 800-RED CROSS (800-733-2767) to make an appointment. You can also use the free Blood Donor App to make an appointment. It's available in app stores by searching for American Red Cross or by texting BLOODAPP to 90999.

Blood drives are being held Thursday, Aug. 13 at the Gardner-White stores in Auburn Hills, Canton, Macomb, Warren, Waterford, Taylor and Brighton. Click here for details.

Talarico riding with her granddaughters.


Talarico riding with her granddaughters.