Let others live through you

Junior Courtney Pelland occupies herself during her lengthy blood transfusion.

Darsha Pelland

Junior Courtney Pelland occupies herself during her lengthy blood transfusion.


“I received two units of blood and then two large iron bolus,” said junior Courtney Pelland, reflecting back to January 2015. After a major decline in her health, Pelland was admitted into the hospital. “At the time, [my family and I] had no idea why my health had gotten so bad,” recalled Pelland.

“My hemoglobin was six and I had no iron storage left in my body,” she said. Her body was getting rid of dead blood cells, but wasn’t producing any new ones. Pelland said, “Receiving the blood and iron was definitely my start to recovery, without it my levels would have dropped, potentially leading to death.”

Someone else’s kind act of donating helped Pellend’s health. Pelland said, “I think it would be interesting to find out who did it, and thank them for it.” Pelland’s nurses were shocked to see her continue to be able to walk and especially surprised she was still dancing.

Pelland started feeling sick her freshman year. She said, “I would get sick in the morning and starting my sophomore year, I became extremely tired all the time. I would complain to my mom that I needed to go home and take naps, but no matter how much sleep I got, I felt as though I never had any energy.” Pelland recalls struggling to stay awake during her classes.

Immediately preceding her visit to the hospital, Pelland’s skin had lost almost all color. “I looked like a ghost,” said Pelland. This lack of color was due to her body losing blood cells.

Receiving the blood was Pelland’s first step in her long recovery. “It took at least six months to even feel halfway better,” said Pelland. It wasn’t until October 2015 when she was diagnosed with celiac disease when she began to truly turn around her health. “Celiac is a serious disease that affects the immune system,” Pelland said. “With celiac, you can’t eat anything gluten.” After adjusting her diet, Pelland finally felt 100 percent again in December.

During this year-long struggle, Pelland endured a major hip surgery while she continued to dance. This past November, she won her first title, becoming Miss Sugar Valley’s Outstanding Teen. Pelland’s platform “Knowing Your Body, Taking a Step Back” is centered around her struggles this past year. “I hope to encourage people to donate blood, and for kids to understand and know when they’ve pushed their body past their limits,” she said.

“Through this experience I have realized the importance of donating blood,” said Pelland. “If you qualify to donate blood, why not do it? You could be saving your best friend’s life.”