By Tony Jones
Larry Klein is no stranger to donating blood. He donated his first pint about 20 years ago when his place of employment held a blood drive. As a manager during that time, he believed it was a great way of setting an example for his staff.
“It’s a way to give back. I know there’s always a shortage and blood is the easiest thing to give so why not do it,” said Larry.
Recently, the Red Cross urgently called for blood donations. This led Larry to the 98 Rock Winter Blood Drive in Westminster, Maryland on January 5, 2022. For him this donation marked two gallons of lifesaving blood – which he has donated over the past two decades.
“I never would have thought I would donate one gallon much less two!” said Larry.
He exclusively donates Power Reds, a process that uses a special machine allowing donors to safely give two units of red blood cells during a single donation while returning plasma, platelets and a saline solution to the donor. Power Red donors must be type O positive or O, A or B negative; and can give every 112 days, up to 3 times a year.
Larry loves tracking the journey of his donated blood’s journey after he’s given. Through the award-winning Red Cross blood donor app, he has seen his blood go to a couple of different hospitals, helping patients with lifesaving treatments.
“I use the blood donor app to track where my blood goes,” said Larry. “I watch the blood journey. It’s interesting to see where it goes.”
The Red Cross, which supplies 40 percent of the nation’s blood, has experienced a 10% decline in the number of people donating blood since the Covid-19 pandemic began. This, in part, has led to the current national blood crisis, the worst blood shortage in over a decade, posing a concerning risk to patient care.
Larry is happy his donation will in a small way help to begin addressing the shortage.
“It’s good to know that I’m helping those who depend on blood donations for their treatments. It’s a way for me to give back.”
Every donation is needed more than ever. Recently, the Red Cross has had less than a one-day supply of critical blood products on hand – well below the ideal five-day supply. But Larry will tell you process of rolling up a sleeve and donating is simple and gratifying.
“It’s pretty painless. People do have a fear of getting stuck with a needle and seeing blood. But it’s not a bad experience. It’s really worth it.”
The Red Cross asks everyone to roll up a sleeve and #ResolvetoGive to help ensure people in their communities receive the care they need. Make an appointment to give blood or platelets as soon as possible by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).