Donors say giving blood is easy and is a good feeling

By William K. Alcorn


Giving blood is a matteR of conscience for Robert and Missy Laport Hensley of Youngstown.

“We just decided this year to become regular donors,” said Hensley, waiting to give his second unit [pint] Monday at an American Red Cross blood drawing at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 119 Stadium Drive, sponsored by Boardman United Methodist Church.

Doug and Kathy Conner of Boardman said they were motivated to become blood donors by the 9/11 terrorist attacks on New York City and the Pentagon, and their son, Chris, who is serving in the Army.

“I donated years ago but had gotten out of the habit,” said Doug Conner, whose son served a tour in Iraq in military intelligence and now lives in New Zealand. His daughter, Alyssa, lives in New York City.

“The blood is needed, and it’s an easy thing that only takes about 90 minutes. It’s a wonderful thing to do ... it’s the right thing to do ... it’s the human thing to do,” said Conner, who is in building maintenance at Boardman United Methodist.

Also giving blood at Westminster Presbyterian was Red Cross Hall of Fame donor Keith D. Boone Sr. of Boardman who has donated 241 pints, which equals 30 gallons and one pint, of life-giving blood since giving his first pint in 1962 to help a nephew who had leukemia.

In 2010, Boone was inducted into the Tribute Level of the Red Cross Northern Ohio Blood Services Blood Donor Hall of Fame, an honor reserved for blood and platelet donors who have given between 225 and 249 pints. He was inducted in 2006 into the Red Cross HOF Honor Level, which recognizes 200 to 224 pints donated.

Boone, a premium tax adviser with H&R Block and an IRS-certified enrolled agent, accumulated his donor total the old-fashioned way, giving whole blood. Whole-blood donors can give every 56 days while platelet donors can donate every seven days.

He almost certainly would have reached the highest level, Legacy, for 250 or more donations, but a vacation trip to the Dominican Republic made him ineligible to donate for a year. Despite the 12-month layoff, he is just nine pints away from reaching the 250-pint Legacy level. “That’s my goal,” he said.

“Giving blood is a planned event for me. It’s a blessing to be able to donate. Every pint helps three to four people. That is its own reward,” said Boone, 75, who admits he also looks forward to the homemade cookies served as snacks to donors at Westminster Presbyterian, his home church.

Of all the donations collected in the Northern Ohio Region in fiscal year 2012, 4.3 percent came from Mahoning County and 3.7 percent came from Trumbull County, said Christina Sabaka, Northern Ohio Region communications manager.

March, proclaimed Red Cross Month in 1943 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and by every president since, is a time to remind everyone of the work of the Red Cross in communities across the country and around the globe, Sabaka said.

Service areas of the Red Cross include blood donations, disaster relief, health and safety training, support to military members and their families, and international services.

Every day, patients across the United States need an average of 44,000 units of blood. That’s about 17 million donations—or nearly 23 million blood products—transfused to 5 million patients a year.

The need for blood is constant. It cannot be manufactured. and the Red Cross depends on volunteer blood donors to meet the needs of patients in northern Ohio.

Summer is right around the corner and it is always a difficult collection time for the Red Cross.

“We appreciate all of our dedicated donors, and we encourage those who have never given or maybe haven’t given in a long time to find a blood drive and make an appointment to give,” Sabaka said.

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