By Andres Dominguez, Health Forward program officer
Cancer is a dreaded disease that has hit my family at many levels. During my junior high school years, my mother was diagnosed with colon cancer. During her surgeries, she received a series of blood transfusions that sustained her life.
In 1993, for the first time, I donated blood through the local Community Blood Center. A few months back I proudly received my two gallon pin — a symbol of my donation of 16 pints of blood. My wife, Amy, is a cancer survivor and together we donate on a regular basis — a very simple gesture that can affect the lives of so many.
As a universal blood donor, my blood is often used for victims of trauma accidents, infants and newborns. Usually up to two people benefit from every donation. During a visit, I asked if there was more that I could do. The technician advised me that I was a candidate for apheresis. Through this procedure, my platelets were collected and used to treat cancer patients that have undergone chemotherapy treatments. As chemo kills cancer cells, patients often will need platelet transfusions.
Donors can play an ever critical role in the health of individuals in need. The entire donation process, which includes an interview, is usually completed in an hour, and the actual donation takes less than 15 minutes. In addition, you will receive cholesterol and blood pressure screenings, along with an iron count.
In a given day, our region is in need of 580 units. The kindness of strangers sustained my mother’s life. You can do the same for those in need.
As December pulls us in many directions, with the various holidays and end-of-the-year community activities, we can grow forgetful about donating blood. But as January arrives, people get a fresh start with a new year, and with that new year, a fresh opportunity to forge new resolutions, too. I suggest making a resolution to contact your doctor and local center to see if donating blood is the right option for you. If it is, try to donate regularly, and get your co-workers or family members involved.
To donate you can visit the website, savealifenow.org or call 816-753-4040.
You can also read up on some facts about blood donations.