• December 26, 2014

Woman owes her life to blood donors. Now she spreads the word to others.

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Posted: Monday, January 29, 2007 12:00 pm | Updated: 4:54 pm, Wed Aug 15, 2012.

By Rose Luna

Killeen Daily Herald

Seven months in her mother's womb, Margo Coster had to be brought into the world early because her laboring mother was hemorrhaging.

Both Coster and her mother required blood transfusions from complications minutes after birth. The hospital had to fly a supply of type O negative blood from Phoenix, Ariz., to Tucson, Ariz., to match Coster's mother's blood type.

"It still amazes me to this day that the hospital didn't have enough blood to give her a transfusion," said Coster, 54 years later.

Despite a childhood fear of needles that only progressed into a phobia the years to follow, Coster forced herself to give blood because of the dilemma her mother faced during labor.

Since, she's accumulated a closet of donor T-shirts, tote-bags and tension balls.

"How could I not give blood?" Coster asked. "It's giving something back. It's saving a person's life I haven't given blood in more than three years."

In October 2003, Coster's fear of breast cancer was confirmed after finding an insect bite-like lump on her left nipple that August.

"I remember the doctors asking if I needed a ride home," Coster said. "But I was fine. I knew I was going to beat it."

After much discussion with her family and doctors, Coster decided on a double mastectomy.

With a successful surgery behind her, Coster then decided to have plastic surgery to fill one void and empty another.

"After a divorce, I was ready to look good," Coster said.

Coster decided to undergo gastric bypass surgery to remove some of her unwanted weight, but under the knife, Coster needed two blood transfusions.

"I just remember waking up and feeling real weak," Coster said. "I wanted to get home as fast as I could."

Two weeks later and still in the hospital, Coster developed a yellow complexion and noticed blood in her urine.

"It looked black," Coster recalled. "My sister later told me that she wanted to run out of the hospital it freaked her out that bad."

Doctors believed her gall bladder to be the source, so Coster had it removed but the results remained inconclusive.

"They said it was either the antibiotics or the blood transfusion," she said.

Now a cancer survivor herself, the doctors feared a relapse because of her family history of ovarian and cervical cancer.

"I usually have a good feeling about surgery," Coster said. "But before I went under, I heard the intercom announce a need for A positive blood."

After a 20 hour hysterectomy surgery, Coster was placed in the Intensive Care Unit at Scott & White.

"My blood pressure bottomed out," Coster said. "An artery had burst in my left breast and some tissue died."

Coster required six blood transfusions and an additional five hours of surgery during her four-day stay in the ICU.

One year later and ready to transform her body, Coster opted to have more plastic surgery done.

Coster discussed having a TRAM flap, a reconstructive breast surgery for mastectomy patients, and a tummy tuck as a fringe benefit.

"They used part of my tummy muscles for my right breast and part of my back muscles for my left breast," Coster said.

Shortly after her breast surgery, Coster found blood in her urine again.

After ultrasounds and medication, the doctors came to the same conclusion two years ago – antibiotics or blood transfusion.

According to Texas law, a cancer survivor must remain cancer-free for five years before they can donate blood. Coster has one year, nine months left.

But she has found another way to give back and save lives.

Coster recently received the news that she is a match for a bone marrow transplant.

"I'm a believer in paying it forward," Coster said. "You have to do it. We all have different tolerance in pain. And it's worth it to save a person's life."

Contact Rose Luna at rluna@kdhnews.com

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