By: Damakant Jayshi
Jill Gordon-Evans has been donating blood for over 40 years, inspired by watching her father’s selfless act of giving blood as a child. Gordon-Evans, a Smyrna resident, began donating back in 1981 while in high school and wanted to carry on the noble and life-saving effort that her father displayed.
Her father donated blood at sudden and odd hours, the long-time donor from Smyrna said in a recent interview with the Red Cross. “When I was in high school, the hospitals in Ligonier, PA, and Latrobe, PA would phone my dad in the middle of the night (when) there was a bad car wreck (and) if they needed a blood donor,” said Gordon-Evans.
She remembers her first donation during her senior year of high school where the blood drive was taking place. Students who were 18 years old and 110 pounds could donate blood.
Gordon-Evans was eligible as she had just turned 18, but she was barely 110 pounds at the time. Her father’s selfless act of love and kindness inspired her to give it a try. Thus began a journey that continues to this day.
There is something else special about Gordon-Evans as her blood is Type O Negative. Just 7% of the United States population have this blood group. Type O- is the most common blood type used for transfusions when the blood type is unknown. Therefore, it is no surprise this blood type is used most often in cases of trauma, emergency, surgery, and any situation where the blood type is unknown.
The value and contribution of this long-time blood donor, who has already donated about 50 pints of blood since 1981, cannot be overstated. Regular donors, like Gordon-Evans, stand out when compared to this fact: only about 3% of age-eligible people donate blood each year.
Blood supply is a matter of concern in the United States. Every 2 seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood and or platelets and approximately 29,000 units of red blood cells are needed every day in the U.S. The Red Cross provides about 40% of our nation’s blood and blood components, all from generous volunteer donors.
The Smyrna resident is one of those generous volunteer donors. Gordon-Evans said that she did not know about the Red Cross-coordinated blood donation drives until her father told her about it. She tries to allay the fears of those who are willing to donate blood but have questions about it or are scared of a syringe. It can be slightly painful sometimes, she said but adds that it is worth “a tiny bit of discomfort to help a person who is probably far sicker and in more pain” than a donor is.
“I think most people just want to help others in general. I think it is a way to be helpful that is somewhat easy,” she said when we asked her what she gained from her experiences donating blood to the Red Cross.
The Red Cross is humbled by the goodness and kindness of those like Gordon-Evans.
How to donate blood
To make your blood donation appointment, visit RedCrossBlood.org or call 1-800-REDCROSS – or download the Red Cross Blood Donor App. Find the next open appointment near you.
Individuals who are 17 years of age in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), 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.
Blood and platelet donors can save time at their next donation by using RapidPass® to complete their pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of their donation, before arriving at the blood drive. To get started, follow the instructions at RedCrossBlood.org/RapidPass or use the Blood Donor App.