By Clarice Nassif Ransom, Red Cross Volunteer
When Ben Horn went to donate blood in Rockville, Maryland, on Oct. 8, 2021, he was achieving a personal milestone—to mark his first gallon of blood donated overall to the American Red Cross.
“I have never given it much thought as to why I do it other than it’s the right thing to do,” said Horn. “Each time I get that email from the American Red Cross telling me my donation has been transported to a hospital, I feel great and that it will be one of the more important things I’ll ever do.”
Horn is a Power Red blood donor, which means he donates two units of red cells during one appointment. Red cells are the most frequently used blood component, needed for almost every blood transfusion.
For Horn, donating blood is now a lifelong journey that he started when he was in college. At the Power Red donation, Horn is hooked up to a machine that automatically draws blood from his arm, collects two units of red cells, and returns the remaining blood components such as plasma and platelets, along with saline, back into his arm. Horn says donating blood does not take much time, and the reward is worth it.
“You can save someone else’s life,” said Horn. “I’m proud any time I can help someone. It’s the pinnacle of existence to help others.”
And right now there is a blood shortage, so donors are needed. A Power Red donation is for type O, A negative or B negative donors; can be done up to three times per year; and lasts about one hour and 30 minutes. A whole blood donation can occur every 56 days and takes about an hour start to finish, with the actual blood donation being about 10 minutes. For those contemplating whether or not to donate blood, Horn has some encouraging words.
“Know that you’re in a controlled medical setting and that these professionals know what they’re doing,” said Horn. “In some sense, it’s the safest you’ll be all day because you have health professionals all around you monitoring you closely.”
The American Red Cross supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood. To find a Red Cross blood drive near you, enter your zip-code at: http://www.RedCrossBlood.org
Horn is a communications professional by day and an American Red Cross volunteer during his non-work hours.
“I’d say the American Red Cross is one of the best places to volunteer because its cause is so pure and so good—an organization based on compassion is a lovely thing,” said Horn who acknowledges that his father, a fellow American Red Cross volunteer, also inspired him.
Concluded Horn, “All I’d add is a great piece of advice I got at one point, ‘If you have the opportunity to do the right thing, don’t hesitate, just do it.’”