When I was in Basic Training at Lackland AFB, Texas, in 1967, we were marching past our Squadron Headquarters, commanded to be “at ease” and to pull our dog tags out. We were commanded to raise our hands if any of us had AB positive blood and then told that those of us who had raised their hands had just volunteered to donate blood. As it turned out there had been a horrible accident in San Antonio, and as would often happen, the Base would be the source blood donations. That was the first time I donated blood.
Later in life a dear family friend was on the receiving end because of lung cancer. At the time, the hospital was soliciting donations to compensate for that use. The hospital was pleased that every unit was replaced by family, friends and co-workers.
I have found over time that the one thing I could do that might save a life was donate blood. These are not donations that you get paid for, these donations literally come out of the kindness of your heart. Over the years, I started with periodic blood donations and eventually decided on the goal of 100 units.
What happens then is that your name goes on a gold leaf on the “Tree of Life” displayed at the blood bank. Over the years of periodic donations I was often asked if I would consider giving plasma or platelets rather than whole blood. After I had given about 75 pints of whole blood I finally gave in. Last month my gold leaf was replaced by a bronze leaf signifying 200 units of blood. I have seen other CT drivers, First Transit drivers and DART drivers donating blood. Most remarkably a former driver from CT, Scott Eiler, who has given over 800 units of blood.
Bloodworks NW comes to CT on a regular basis looking for volunteers. I don't believe there is a program at either First Transit or Senior Services, but that doesn't mean that one can't be set up. Several times while I was on my split I took advantage of the opportunity to donate. Out of curiosity I googled the value of a single unit of blood to be $540.00, but more than that, the real opportunity is to save a life.
Last month I attended my granddaughter's 18th birthday party. It was a Saturday, and I had just returned from donating blood with my bandaged arm. I teased her that now she was old enough to donate blood without parental permission. She is a student at Western Washington State University, that very week I learned that she had donated blood while Bloodworks NW had come to her campus. I couldn't have been prouder of her decision the very week she became an adult. Now you know something personal about me that you might not have otherwise known. It's the end of the year and soon to be the beginning of a new one. If you have the opportunity and the inclination, consider giving the “gift of life”.
Best regards and be safe, Rick M. Jurkovic, Vice President ATU 1576