Give the gift of life this holiday season

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, December 9, 2014

As we come into the holiday season, there is a gift that you can give and not have to fight crowds in stores nor spend any money. That is the gift of life, by donating blood. Each donation can help save up to three lives. I donated blood for about 45 years until a medication regimen prevented more donations. I was trying to reach the mark of 30 gallons donated to match a friend who had hit the 30 gallon mark. I fell short by 9 donations.

Our body is the only source of this precious life sustaining fluid. We cannot call a factory and say, “Speed up the conveyor belt, we need more”. If we do not share it, there is none to be had.

Around holidays, the demand for blood increases and unfortunately donations decrease. There are several reasons for this; more accidents drive up the demand and people getting caught up in the season do not think to donate.

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The pool of blood donors is shrinking due to medication regimens, poor choices of lifestyle (drug abuse, etc.) and travel to some countries as well as persons who simply do not care to donate. If everyone who can donate would donate just twice a year, I am told there would be no blood shortages.

My wife received 74 transfusions the final three and one half years of her life. Since I had donated on a regular and continuing basis through The Blood Center, the blood she received was covered by the plan we chose. Even though she had the most common blood type and transfusions were usually scheduled at least one day in advance, there were several times that we had to wait as many as eight hours past the scheduled start time due to a blood shortage. It is comforting to hear those words, “We can get started now, the blood just arrived.”

If you can visualize a family in the ER waiting room or in Neo-Natal ICU waiting to hear those same words, I hope that you will become a donor on a regular and continuing basis. You may donate up to six times a year.

After you cover persons in your household, you can donate later to cover someone who cannot donate. Also, since Medicare does not cover the first three units of blood, you can cover a senior citizen and save them as much as $1,200 or more out of pocket expense in hospital costs.

If your blood type is O negative, you are a “universal donor” and your blood can be given to anyone. On the other hand, if you are O Negative, your body will only accept O negative. Thus the reason for all other types to be donated regularly and often so that your O negative will not have to be given to someone on a non-emergency basis and there will be a supply for O negative persons when they need it.

Remember, this is the gift that keeps on giving. This is the type of donation that will not strain your budget.

By Jim Towler