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Humble Hero

Saves Lives through Blood Donations

Every day, blood donors like Joseph Harris help patients of all ages – from accident and trauma victims to those having surgery or battling cancer. In fact, every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood. The Huntingtown resident has donated regularly since his 20s when he was in the Navy.

The 86-year-old great-grandfather said he thinks about the people who are sick or hurt who need the blood he donates. “They are so thankful for it. It’s a blessing to be able to save a life.”

He went on to add, “I actually look forward to it. It’s not painful. I don’t even feel the needle going in.” Harris is a regular donor at the Red Cross blood drives hosted bimonthly at CalvertHealth Medical Center (CHMC) in Prince Frederick. Other drives are held around the county throughout the year at churches, service organizations, local businesses and fire departments. To find one near you, call 1-800-RED-CROSS or go online at: www.redcross.org.

“There is always a need for more blood and for more donors,” said Mary Posey, who coordinates the blood drives at CalvertHealth. She estimates about half of their donations come from CalvertHealth staff and the rest from the community. Appointments are encouraged but walk-ins are accepted.

“It’s important for people to realize we need a regular blood supply,” she said. “There tends to be a more critical need around the holidays and during the summer vacation months.” Posey said CalvertHealth sponsors seven to 10 drives per year. According to the Red Cross, three to four drives per year means that over 500 lives could potentially be saved.

Posey said the entire process including screening, healthiness test and the actual blood donation takes roughly 60 to 90 minutes. Generally, donors need to be in good health, 17 years or older and weigh at least 110 pounds in order to be eligible to donate.

After you register, a brief medical history including travel and medications will be taken before you donate. Then, you’ll be given a miniphysical to ensure you’re healthy enough to donate that day. The donation itself takes about 10 minutes. This will be followed by a period of refreshment and relaxation before you leave.

Posey suggested these tips to speed up the donation process. “Download the blood donor app or complete a RapidPass® online. After your first donation, use the digital donor card to scan in at registration.”

According to the Red Cross, Type O is routinely in short supply and in high demand by hospitals – both because it is the most common and because blood type O negative blood, in particular, is the universal blood type used for emergency transfusions.

Sometimes, people are hesitant to make their first blood donation but once they do they find the donation process easy and rewarding. Donors are encouraged to listen to music, read a book or simply close their eyes and rest for a few minutes. Afterward, enjoy an oatmeal cookie and some juice, like Joe, and feel the satisfaction of knowing you made a difference.

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