In November 2011, Capt. Nicholas Vogt, a 2010 West Point graduate and Ohio native, had been in command of his platoon in Afghanistan for just over a month when he stepped on an improvised explosive device (IED). According to a Department of Defense report, Vogt “had heroically pushed one of his soldiers out of the way” and thereby “absorbed the brunt of the blast” himself.
The explosion left Vogt severely wounded. He lost both legs at the hips and suffered a severe brain injury with a seizure disorder. Some 500 blood transfusions were required to save his life, the most units ever dispensed in U.S. military history. As word went out among the military men and women on base at Kandahar Air Field, hundreds lined up to donate blood in hopes the Army surgeons could save Vogt’s life.
“They opened up his chest and had to manually massage his heart several times in order to keep what blood he had left pumping through his body,” said a soldier charged with overseeing the wounded on base.
Finally stabilized and transported back to the States, Vogt underwent many surgeries followed by a long period of recovery and rehabilitation, suffering many complications and setbacks. Finally he was able to return home to Ohio with his wife, Lauren, a nurse he met in the hospital. They now have two children together.
Last June, St. Edward the Confessor Council 10876 in Granville, Ohio, hosted an American Red Cross blood drive in Vogt’s honor.
The idea came from Donald DeSapri, a brother Knight and 1962 West Point graduate, who was inspired by Vogt’s recovery and organized the blood drive. With close American Red Cross coordination and plenty of community and pulpit publicity, the response to the drive exceeded expectations, with 42 units donated, a dozen more than the projected goal of 30 units. Just as impressively, more than two-fifths of those who gave blood were first-time donors.
“It took so many blood donors to help save Nick’s life,” DeSapri said. “We want more people to realize how important every blood donation is, and so we invited the community to give blood in honor of our fellow veteran, Captain Vogt, to help others.”
The drive was such a success in raising American Red Cross and Knights of Columbus community awareness that the council has decided to make it an annual event.
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