June 14th is World Blood Donor Day and this year's theme is "More blood. More life." Nancy Naeve Brown met up with a Sioux Falls donor at the Avera McKennan Community Blood Bank who feels very strongly about giving as often as he can.
Gary Meiners knows Phlebotomist Bill Haak very well. Their connection is something that could end up benefiting you and your family when you least expect it one day. Gary has been a blood donor since he was in high school. In recent years he's switched to being a pheresis donor. He's been coming in to the Avera McKennan Community Blood Bank faithfully every 2 weeks. This high tech machine takes out Gary's blood, automatically separates out the platelets from the red blood cells and then returns the rest of his blood to his arm through the tubes. One bag of pheresis donated platelets (which is the clotting factor in our blood) is comparable to what they could harvest from 6 regular blood donors.
Avera McKennan Phlebotomist Abbylou Dillard says, "We think it's very important for donors to come in and donate. They are the ones who help people who need transfusions like the cancer patients, trauma patients and burn patients. Without them we would not be able to do what we do."
The need for both donors is great. At Avera McKennan alone they had 731 blood transfusions in May which means 731 people needed to give blood.
Gary says, "The more I hear about the statistics, the more I know that the need for blood is great. Only 5% of the population donates."
If you need a little more motivation or incentive to come in and give blood think about this; each pint you give helps 3 patients.
Gary says, "It's something you can do to give back to the community that is non-financial."
Gary says he intends on giving the gift of life for just as long as he can.
Gary says, "With pheresis you can do it every 2 weeks. One of the things I found is it's easy to intend to do something or to mean to donate but to actually do it is something else. They work really well with us to make an appointment so they get us on their calendar and I get it on mine. It's easy and I try to do it on my lunch hour so I work it in with my job."
A man with conviction about his intentions and showing all of us they are only good if you follow through.
You don't need to make an appointment to give blood. You do if you plan on doing pheresis since it takes between 60 and 90 minutes. Right now they are in desperate need of O-negative but they'll take any blood type. To find out more about donating blood, the blood bank hours and the locations for the blood mobile go to: http://www.cbblifeblood.org/