A patient having surgery; someone with cancer; an accident victim; a patient with a blood disorder such as sickle cell anemia; a burn victim. What do all of these cases have in common?
These are just a few examples of patients who may need blood during their battle against an illness or injury. And they receive the help they need through an anonymous gift from a wonderful group of people – volunteer blood donors.
Blood donors are silent heroes. They voluntarily show up at a blood drive, roll up their sleeve, and give blood to help someone they may never meet. And many donate regularly, every time they are eligible.
When you ask blood donors why they give, the answers are varied. Many know someone who needed blood. Some started in high school or college. Others give because the blood drive is held at their place of business, their house of worship or a local community center. And some give simply because they were asked.
Ed Kisslak of Waynesboro, PA, started giving blood in 1962 when a friend from the military asked him to give his O-Negative blood to help the man’s daughter. “It still gets to me when I talk about it,” Ed said. “The girl’s mom called me crying and said I may have saved her daughter’s life.” Forty-eight years later, Mr. Kisslak has now donated 233 pints of blood, or more than 29 gallons. As long as he is healthy and able, Kisslak said the Red Cross can count on him to continue giving blood.
Gallipolis, Ohio resident Richard Neal had been reading about how much good a unit of blood can do for people when his supervisor at work told him he should go and donate. This time Neal listened to his boss and he has been a faithful blood donor ever since. Mr. Neal said donating blood gives him a good feeling of knowing that he is helping others. Neal has donated 214 units of blood, just two donations short of giving 27 gallons of blood. He has been giving blood for over 40 years.
Two years ago young Justin Meadows of Beckley, West Virginia, learned first-hand how important blood donors are when he was severely injured in a motorcycle accident. He sustained extensive injuries and was given only a six percent chance of survival. He received about 100 units of blood products to address his massive blood loss. Two years later Justin has made a remarkable recovery and works to support the Red Cross blood program, hosting blood drives and educating the public about the importance of giving blood. He and the members of his family also have become blood donors, giving whenever they are eligible.
Summer and the winter holiday season are the two of the most difficult times of the year for the American Red Cross to recruit enough blood donors to meet the needs of patients. Schools are not in session, many businesses are on holiday, and people go on vacation. Simply put, many people are just not available to give blood at these times of the year.
This summer is no different. The Red Cross asks that anyone who is eligible to give blood please consider making an appointment now to donate. All blood types are needed, especially donors with O-Negative, A-Negative and B-Negative blood.
Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental permission in some states), meet weight and height requirements (110 pounds or more, depending on their height) and are in generally good health may be eligible to give blood. Please bring your Red Cross blood donor card or other form of positive ID when you come to donate. It must be at least 56 days since your last blood donation.
To make an appointment to give blood or find a blood drive near you, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit redcrossblood.org.