January is National Blood Donor Month, a time when the American Red Cross recognizes and thanks the millions of dedicated blood and platelet donors across the United States for helping to ensure a stable blood supply for patients in need both locally and across the country.
MEET BILL WAERZEGGERS To say that Green Bay, Wisconsin resident Bill Waerzeggers is a regular donor is an understatement. Since his first donation in 1970, Waerzeggers has given blood or platelets through the Red Cross more than 680 times.
“There are world-class athletes that can do certain things better than anyone else,” said Waerzeggers about his regular platelet donation every two weeks. “I’m not good at this. I sit here and the staff does the work.”
Waerzeggers says he has never called in sick to work a day in his life, but regularly uses his vacation time to donate during the day. His dedication to blood donation is obvious to his coworkers. Waerzeggers has a Red Cross shrine just outside his office, including a collection of 10-gallon drums to signify the number of gallons of platelets and blood he’s given. And, every “I gave blood today” sticker he’s ever received is plastered along his wall.
“Blood can’t be found in a factory or a mill anywhere,” said Waerzeggers. “It has to come from people, and it’s a gift I don’t mind giving.”
BLOOD DONORS HELP SAVE LIVES The Red Cross thanks all those who roll up a sleeve each year to help save lives because the stability of the nation’s blood supply relies on the generosity of volunteer blood and platelet donors. January can be a challenging month for blood and platelet donations because of inclement weather and seasonal illnesses, yet the need for blood and platelets continues. It is important for eligible donors to make and keep appointments to help patients in need.
HOW TO GIVE To schedule a donation time, or for more information about giving blood, people can call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit redcrossblood.org. A blood donor card or driver’s license, or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental permission in some states), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.