The WellSpan Spotlight

Health and wellness

How 55 generous strangers saved Barb Shoop's life

How 55 generous strangers saved Barb Shoop's life

Barb Shoop would not be alive if it wasn't for the goodness of strangers. 

In 2016, she was in a horrific motorcycle accident in Franklin County. A drunk driver in a pickup truck swerved into her lane, slamming into her Harley motorcycle, severing her leg, and crushing her arm. A nurse and emergency workers who happened to be nearby rushed to her aid, pulling off their T-shirts to stuff them into the hole where her leg dangled from, held only by a small piece of skin, to try to stem the massive flow of blood from Barb's body. 

Barb was airlifted to WellSpan York Hospital, where she had 29 surgeries in 27 days, receiving 86 transfusions. 

In all, Barb received blood and blood products from 55 different donors. That's like being helped by a Greyhound bus full of strangers, who all spent about an hour giving blood at a regional donor center. 

"Isn't that amazing?" Barb says. "I wouldn't be alive if they had not donated. There is no medication, no artificial whatever that can replace blood. There is nowhere else to get blood but from someone else's body. I needed it to live and to be here today." 

Every year, more than 7,500 kind and generous people go to WellSpan's Blood Donor Centers and provide almost 9,000 lifesaving units of blood and blood products to about 5,000 patients, including newborn babies, cancer patients, and trauma victims like Barb. 

"They are literally the lifeblood for other people," says Steve LaCour, a WellSpan laboratory team leader. 

Donations typically lag around the holidays, during the winter months, and again during the height of summer. WellSpan depends on its regular donors – people like Damien Lynch – and is always looking for new people to join their ranks. 

Damien Lynch is just 45 years old but has donated blood more than 50 times over a 25-year period. He was inspired by his late father, Dr. Christopher Lynch, who practiced medicine in the Lehigh Valley. 

"My dad would say, 'I'm going to donate blood today. Giving blood saves a life.' We talked about it in my house when I was growing up," Damien says. "But I didn't really think I would ever do it. Part of it seemed weird. I didn't want someone putting a needle in my arm. It was almost heroic to me that my dad did that." 

Then in 1999, Damien saw that a blood drive was taking place down the road from his financial advisor's office. He thought about his dad and decided to roll up his own sleeve. 

"From then on, it just became something in me," he says. "Getting a needle stuck in my arm isn't bad at all. It's just become part of my life, something I do every eight weeks." 

Damien loves the staff and the community feeling at the WellSpan Blood Donor Center at Apple Hill in York. He discovered a co-worker also donated blood and the two started to donate at the same time, and Damien recruited another co-worker who will join the pair at their next visit. He also has brought home his after-donor snacks and T-shirts to share with his sons, 16 and 18, and hopes they eventually will join him down the road as well. 

Damien is on the younger end of blood donors, who often are from the 65-plus age group. LaCour says WellSpan would welcome new, younger donors who are willing to jump into the lifesaving pool. 

"We have a critical need for blood at all our donor centers at this time of year, and all year round," he said. "We need you." 

Barb now navigates life from a wheelchair, but she drives, lives independently, and is grateful every day for her miraculous survival, often sharing her story with others at churches, prisons, and schools. 

"It's absolutely important to donate," she says. "It may end up being you or someone you love who needs it. I just went around a corner one day and my entire life was changed. I would be dead without other people's generous gift." 

Be a lifesaver! Go here to find out how to donate blood at WellSpan.