Blood Donors are Under Recognized

I submitted this letter to the Star Tribune’s opinion page. They did not print it (one reason might be that I had a letter to the editor published only two months ago), so I thought I should post it here. I make additional comments about this worthwhile and timely topic at the end. 

During the COVID-19 crisis, America is beginning to recognize everyday heroes like doctors, nurses, teachers, garbage collectors, and supermarket workers. This is a big step up from calling pro-athletes and rock musicians heroes. But, some heroes are not getting the recognition they deserve – blood donors. 

I’m proud to be a six-gallon blood donor, but there are unsung heroes in this state who are 10-gallon donors and even 20-plus gallon donors. A person donates a pint of blood with every donation, so it takes eight visits to make a gallon. If a person gives four times a year, it takes 40 years to become a 20-gallon donor! What a hero! 

Of course, that is why multiple-gallon blood donors go unrecognized. It is a slow process spread out over decades. 

Let’s not wait until World Blood Donor Day on June 14 to recognize blood donors. Governor Walz and the state legislature should partner with Memorial Blood Centers and the American Red Cross to recognize and honor blood donors who are donating during the coronavirus crisis. 

And, of course, I encourage you to contact either of those organizations to schedule a time to give blood.

Additional Comments

IMG-2762As I mentioned in my letter, I’m a six-gallon blood donor. About 20 years ago, when I got my two-gallon donor pin, I wore it to church to show off what a good and decent person I am. As I was walking around the coffee area with my pin, a small elderly woman recognized my pin, congratulated me on getting it, and then added, “I’m a 22-gallon donor.” I felt like a balloon as the air is going out of it. At that time, I had no idea that 20-gallon donors existed. 

I tell that story to illustrate that people who donate blood regularly do not get the recognition they deserve. There is no way that a person would have guessed that the church member was a 20-gallon donor. 

Six ways to helpWhat started me thinking recently about the lack of recognition for blood donors was a graphic distributed by the State of Minnesota Government to support the #StayHomeMN campaign. It listed six ways to help:
·       Reach out to friends
·       Volunteer to deliver groceries
·       Donate money to food shelves 
·       Donate blood
·       Donate time
·       Give new and unused PPE.

Right there, at number four, is “Donate Blood.” If Governor Walz and the Minnesota government want to encourage blood donors, they need to do more than distribute one graphic mentioning donate blood. A better solution would be for Governor Walz to proclaim a 10-Gallon+ Blood Donor Recognition Day.

WorldBloodDonorDay:Layout 1I’ll close by mentioning World Blood Donor Day is June 14 every year. It is one of eight official global public health campaigns from the World Health Organization. (You know, that organization that Trump is defunding right now.)  According to Wikipedia, “The event, established in 2004, serves to raise awareness of the need for safe blood and blood products and to thank Blood donors for their voluntary, life-saving gifts of blood.” 

I hope you will join me recognizing blood donors on June 14, 2020. I’ll be wearing my six-gallon blood donor pin! 

Jerry giving blood

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