By Dana Simmons, American Red Cross
On March 30, 1991, Darryl Lair was traveling to visit his parents in Arizona when he experienced a lifechanging car accident that left him paralyzed from the chest down. Darryl, a Navy veteran and San Bernardino resident, has since turned his trauma into triumph and gives back to the community in many ways, including donating lifesaving blood.
Nearly 30 years after Darryl’s accident, he recounts that after being thrown from his vehicle, he laid on the desert ground waiting for help. An off-duty firefighter came to his rescue and Darryl was flown by helicopter to a trauma center in Phoenix, Arizona, where he was pronounced Dead on Arrival (DOA). He suffered from a large gash in his neck and shoulder, a severed jugular vein, numerous broken bones, a spinal cord injury caused from his fractured spine and internal bleeding.
Darryl credits the doctors and nurses at St. Joseph's Hospital in Arizona, Casa Colina Hospital in California, and those who selflessly donate blood for saving his life. He emphasizes, “Without blood donations from others, I would have never survived.”
Darryl has accomplished a lot since his accident, including raising two children as a single parent, attending culinary school, helping kids with physical challenges, working at the Long Beach VA with newly injured veterans and participating in wheelchair sports. From downhill skiing to motocross, Darryl lives his life by the motto, “Focus on what you can do, not on what you can't do.”
Despite Darryl’s active lifestyle, he makes time to give back and pay it forward, “I'm doing both, I’m giving back because people donated blood for me and I’m paying it forward because hopefully my blood will help someone else in need.”
Darryl has turned his trauma into triumph and his struggles into strengths and continues to donate whole blood to honor those who helped save his life. “Throughout my life journey, I try to never forget the sacrifice that others did for me to be alive today and I try to donate blood frequently, especially around the anniversary date of my accident every year.”
To make an appointment to donate blood to help hospital patients, visit RedCrossBlood.org.