Summer is here and we’re all making plans to enjoy the outdoors, longer days, the slower pace. The American Red Cross urges everyone who is able to also make plans to give blood as soon as possible.
This summer the number of people giving blood has gone down and all blood types are needed to help build the blood supply back up to where it should be. There is a particular need for donors with Type O-Negative blood, the universal blood type. Type O-Negative blood can be transfused to patients with any blood type and is often used in emergency situations when doctors don’t have the time to type a patient’s blood.
Blood products help patients with many different needs. Most people connect blood transfusions with accident victims and surgical patients. Blood products also help cancer patients, patients with sickle cell disease and other blood disorders, burn victims and many others who receive transfusions every day. There is no substitute for blood and volunteer donors are the only source.
Tim started seeing life differently when he entered the eighth grade. That’s the year he battled an E-coli poisoning and learned what it means to need blood. At 13, Tim had no way of knowing that a terrible stomach ache could result in multiple surgeries and blood transfusions to help save his life.
He and his friend had just returned from a camping trip, and had cooked some burgers on a grill. The next day, he got sick and his friend didn’t. Everyone thought it was a “bug” or the flu. But after several days of horrible abdominal cramps, Tim was admitted to the hospital and placed in intensive care. His kidneys shut down and his blood counts were low. He needed transfusions to stave off dialysis and further damage to his system.
Tim was in the hospital for six weeks. His experience strengthened his resolve to be the first in line at his high school blood drive when he turned 17. He’s been a donor now for more than a decade, and tells his story to everyone in hopes they’ll give blood too.
Vince woke up on a spring morning a decade ago, surprised to be surrounded by his family. But even more surprising, Vince says, were the nurses, asking him how he was doing. No one, he says, expected him to survive the massive factory accident that killed six of his friends and injured dozens of co-workers.
Vince suffered third-degree burns over 70 percent of his body when a boiler exploded and set fire to his workplace. Rushed to the hospital, he lay in a coma for two months. In between skin grafts and surgeries, he received hundreds of units of plasma from volunteer donors.
Throughout his recovery, Vince heard about Red Cross blood drives and fundraisers held in his honor and for other accident survivors. He told his family that the generosity of donors inspired him to do something for humankind. Soon after his rehabilitation, he resumed donating blood, and started a Red Cross blood drive so others could give for the greater good.
Roy believes in being there for others, which is why he donates blood. Others were there for him after he was in an automobile accident that nearly took his life.
Several years ago, Roy’s vehicle collided with a tractor-trailer, jamming his vehicle beneath the truck bed. Because of the force, his SUV compressed to half its size, wedging Roy between the driver’s side window and the underside of the semi. He remained there until EMTs arrived to cut him loose. Roy was airlifted to the hospital. He had suffered massive head trauma, as well as serious lacerations and injuries that caused him to bleed out. In transit, he received about eight pints of blood to help save his life.
After months of speech, physical and occupational therapy, Roy says he’s back to nearly 97 percent. He says he’s here today because blood donors ensured blood was available the moment he needed it. That’s why he’s promised to give blood as long as he can, wherever and whenever he is able.
Please give blood now. 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 general 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.
Eligible blood donors are asked to please call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit redcrossblood.org to find a blood drive and make an appointment.