By Stephanie Babyak
As the weather gets warmer and the school year starts winding down, many families turn their thoughts to summer vacation and all the fun that implies. The cry of “road trip” rings out as everyone piles into the family car to hit the road.
Unfortunately, the American Red Cross typically sees blood supplies dwindle during summer months as people leave for holiday. Yet, the need for blood never takes a break. With no substitute for blood donations, volunteer donors are the only source of blood supplies for those with sickle cell anemia, car accident victims, or parents experiencing a difficult childbirth. In fact, every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood. A single car accident victim, for example, may need as much as 100 units of blood.
That’s why volunteer donors, like Bethesda, Maryland resident Mitchell Solkowitz, are considered real life heroes. Mitchell has been donating blood since 1999. He first donated while in college and, since then, has given 92 pints of blood.
He usually gives blood through drives at his place of work, Baltimore Gas and Electric. BGE has a long history of support for Red Cross blood drives and holds blood drives at company locations.
Mitchell says, “The ability to donate at work and the camaraderie the drives create makes it especially convenient and easy to donate.”
He most recently donated at the Red Cross Montgomery County Chapter House, and always donates through the National Capital & Greater Chesapeake Region of the Red Cross.
“Many times, I have needed to find locations to make sure I stay on schedule - every 56 days for whole blood,” says Mitchell. “I’ve donated at many different locations—a synagogue in Baltimore, community centers in Columbia and Gaithersburg, and of course Red Cross sites at Mt. Hope, Rockville, and Charles Drew in DC.”
There was a brief period of time when a health issue kept Mitchell from donating. Not to be discouraged, he turned to hosting blood drives in coordination with the Red Cross.
While Mitchell does not personally know someone who has needed blood, he says, “I know that the need is always there. I donate because I am able to. I frequently post about my donations on social media. Many times, people thank me and comment that they are not able to [donate]. That continues to drive me to donate – other people are not able to, but I am.”
Mitchell wants to make blood donation a family affair. His youngest child has donated, and he’s “working on the other two.”
Mitchell is right about the constant need for blood. The American Red Cross couldn’t succeed in its life-saving mission without him and other compassionate blood donors like him.
Learn more about the impact you could have as a blood donor at redcrossblood.org.