When Don was in the fifth grade he had to go to the Cleveland Clinic to have a hole the size of a half dollar in his heart sewn up. This was one of the earlist open heart surgeries on children, and garnered a lot of attention in the local newspaper.
Mom overcame a tremendous fear of flying to take Don on an airplane from Lima to Cleveland. (Good luck finding that direct flight these days!) Several local organizations collaborated to solicit about 30 blood donors, who traveled by bus to Cleveland the day of the surgery. At that time, blood donors had to be at the hospital in the room next to the patient. It was no small sacrifice for all these volunteers.
The surgery was a tremendous success, and Don was fairly soon back riding his bike, climbing trees, and pursuing a pretty normal childhood. I think he missed about the last six weeks of school that year. I don’t recall him complaining a whole lot about it.
In later years, I think that experience encouraged me to become a regular blood donor. I just completed my 60th donation. As my blood is O-negative, the universal type, the nurses tell me it usually goes to babies or on EMS vehicles, as the responders can use it with anyone. I think donating blood is one of the most rewarding and satisfying things I do. I miss it when we travel to places like Costa Rica which disqualifies me from giving for a full year.
In one other interesting way, donating blood has been rewarding. Several years ago, Jan received a call from the Red Cross announcing I had won an iPad. She skeptically responded, “Yeah, what’s the catch.” The caller finally convinced her to take his number and have me return the call. It was legitimate, a totally random drawing. I got my photo in the newspaper and an electronic device I probably never would have bought, and to which I am now totally addicted.