|Cruz Norris spent two months in STL Children's Hospital and underwent open heart surgery.
Some people are a bit apprehensive about donating blood. But Derrick Norris, Senior Maintenance Worker at Van Buren, beamed with pride as he waited to donate and proudly shared a photo of his beautiful family—his wife, Angie, and their 7-month old son, Cruz.
But behind Derrick’s smile and family photo, there is quite a story.
Soon after their marriage, Angie was diagnosed with thyroid cancer, which slightly delayed their plans for children. But thankfully, soon after receiving medical clearance, their desire to start a family was fulfilled.
On May 24, 2014, Derrick and Angie welcomed their son, Cruz, into the world. But immediately, Cruz was rushed to several hospitals before ending up in St. Louis for surgery to repair his detached esophagus. Cruz then spent two months in Children’s Hospital and also underwent open heart surgery to repair a hole in his heart and a defective valve.
Cruz has since recovered, and no one would guess just a few months ago, this healthy, bright-eyed baby was undergoing major operations and an extended hospital stay.
“During his surgeries, he had to receive several blood transfusions,” said Derrick. “My son and the trying times my family went through helped me see the big picture and really changed my outlook on everything.”
He described that prior to his son’s birth and subsequent surgeries, donating blood wasn’t something that he frequently thought about. But now, it has a special meaning and purpose.
“This is my second time to donate,” he said during the Southeast District’s most recent blood drive. “I hadn’t donated until my son was born, and for me, donating has special significance. I think about my son and the care he received.”
Derrick was one of the individuals that helped the Red Cross in their blood drive at the Southeast District office on Jan. 8. The goal was to collect 24 productive units. But that was exceeded with a total of 36 units. Each unit collected has the potential to save up to three lives.
“Thanks to everyone who helped make the blood drive a success,” said Senior Risk Management Technician Sue Sifford. “The Red Cross had so many wishing to donate that they ran out of supplies, and several individuals had to be turned away.”
Photo: Cruz is now back home and doing well, but Derrick Norris hasn't forgotten how much his coworkers and MoDOT helped his family through this tough time. From ShareLeave to prayers and well wishes, Derrick explained that he felt blessed to be at MoDOT during this time.