In honor of National Blood Donor Month, we recently surveyed Blood Bank of Delmarva donors about why they donate, and the altruistic and practical responses they gave were heartwarming, to say the least.
To sum up, people donate blood as a powerful way to give back to the community, to help people, and to continue family traditions, among other things.
For instance, University of Delaware student Kathleen Zamrowski donated for the first time on November 29 in the Christiana Donor Center. She learned from her parents the importance of donating blood.
“So, my parents have always donated here and there, and I just joined ROTC [Reserve Officer Training Corps] at school, Kathleen said. “So, it’s kind of important to me that everyone is giving back to the community in one way or another. It saves someone’s life.”
The catalyst for her donating during the fall semester was when she heard other students talking about one of the blood drives held at the University of Delaware campus in November. When she donated, she had a good experience, and she plans to come back.
Similar to Kathleen, Jen Williamson was inspired by her mother to donate blood. She made a point to donate with BBD during the critical holiday season on December 20.
“My Mom always did it, so I thought I would just follow in her footsteps,” Jen said. “I’m type O, so it’s needed. I just felt an obligation.
“I donated for years. I used to come in regularly, but I’ve been slacking,” she added. “It’s been insane at work lately. I kept ignoring phone calls. But, I’m on vacation starting today, so when the phone rang I said, alright.”
Don’t sell yourself short, Jen. Thank you for saving lives, particularly during the holiday season.
Also coming in during the holiday season was Laurie Jennings, who donated her A negative, whole blood on December 19.
“My Dad always donated; he’s got O positive blood,” Laurie said. “It was just something he always did, and I just thought it was a great thing to do to be able to give back. So, I started when I was able to.
“I get the ‘every time you’re eligible call,’” she added, with a laugh. “I think, for me, it’s just being able to do something good and knowing I’ve done it. If I ever get into a situation where my family needs blood, I would hope other people are donating as well.”
Also donating during the holiday season was Christian Flaherty, who participated in the fourth annual Salesianum Alumni Blood Drive held December 8. For Chris, this was his second time donating blood. He said Facebook posts by fellow 1990 grad Tony Prado, who works for the Blood Bank of Delmarva, and other friends inspired him to donate blood. That, and the notification from the Salesianum Alumni Association brought him in.
“I saw the demand for it,” he said. “Being a police officer, I’ve seen officers hurt in the line of duty and needed blood. So, it just inspired me.”
Down in the South, in our Salisbury Donor Center, double red cell donor Peter Bozick was in for his regular donation on December 5. He first started donating at work years ago after a plea went out, and he just continued the good habit.
“I was overdue. I’m a regular double red cell donor,” Peter said of his latest visit. “So, every 16 weeks, they call me and call me and call me.”
But he doesn’t mind, particularly because Peter believes donating blood is healthy for you.
“It makes me produce more blood cells,” he said. “Renewing your blood cells is a healthy thing to do. And, it’s available for my family and friends, whoever needs it.”
Also in Salisbury, Jim Young said he donates because he just likes “to help people.”
“I give every 112 days,” Jim said.
Half an hour away, in our Dagsboro Donor Center, Ashley Malaspina shared that donating blood was something she started doing as a student at Sussex Tech High School. This young lady donated on December 5 as well. She had gotten a call from the Blood Bank of Delmarva asking for O positive donors to come in, and she was happy to make an appointment.
“I like to donate because I know it does help others in need,” Ashley said. “I just have a soft spot in my heart for that, and I just like to help out where I can.”
Betsy Day was another O positive donor giving in Dagsboro on December 5. She also happens to be the mother of Blood Bank of Delmarva Director of Laboratories Kristin Frederick!
“It’s just to help people,” Betsy said. “I do it every eight weeks. Once you do it, you can overcome any fear of needles. Just try it, and be open minded. It’s easier than getting a flu shot.”
O negative donor Dean Clark also gave blood on December 5 in Dagsboro “to give back.”
“My stepfather had leukemia and for his treatment, he received dozens of transfusions, if not hundreds,” he said.
Wow, thank you for your dedication, donors.
Back up North, Lydia Timmins donated double red cells on December 6 in the Christiana Donor Center.
“When I was 18, I went to my high school, they looked at my veins and they said, you need to donate for the rest of your life,” Lydia said. “So, I said okay. My parents were in the U.S. Military, and they had to donate every eight weeks.
“I don’t get much of an opportunity to volunteer with a lot of things; this is the one thing I can do,” she added. “It’s an hour out of my day every 16 weeks, and it actually means something.”
Salesianum School Athletic Director Katie Godfrey donated at the Salesianum School Fall Semester Blood Drive held back on November 30 for students, faculty and staff.
“Giving blood is a great way to literally give a part of yourself to help someone who is in need,” Katie said. “I have been giving blood at different locations, so it was great to be able to do it with my school today.
“My hope is that it helps someone who is dealing with some health issues,” she added. “Giving blood is not as difficult as you may imagine and the entire process can be finished during a lunch break. It is an awesome way to selflessly give back.”
At the same blood drive, Salesianum School Registrar Marie Classen said she donated because of the constant need for blood and because of a recent change in regulations by the FDA regarding those who spent time in Europe.
“I have a blood type that is the universal donor [O negative]. So, I love to donate,” Marie said. “This is the first time I’ve been able to donate in several years because I used to live in Germany. So, we were excluded for a while [due to the FDA deferral for mad cow disease], and I’m very excited to be back!”
So are we, Marie. Thank you, and thank you to all the donors who truly are our benefactors. We could not do the mission without you.
As BBD celebrates the New Year and National Blood Donor Month this January , we are asking everyone to donate whole blood once per season – winter, spring, summer, and fall – or double red cells twice per year. That could be the remedy to avoiding future shortages.