Story by Harriet Vanderbilt / Red Cross Cascades Region
This January, during National Blood Donor Month, the Red Cross pays homage to the thousands of citizens who answered the call to help save lives.
This year, perhaps more than any other year in recent history, stepping up to give blood brings hope to multitudes of people suffering from the effects of the global pandemic.
Among the gift-givers are John Mason and his son, Jack, who donated on Christmas Eve.
Jack, a student at Oregon State University, was a first-time donor. Jack quipped “it was easy. The hardest part was all the paperwork!”
John was first exposed to blood donation as a child.
“I went with my mother when she donated blood at the Stockton, CA Delta Blood Bank,” he said. “Because of World War II, she saw the need for blood donations all around her.”
John is a long-time donor, usually giving blood 3-4 times a year.
At the age of 15, before he was old enough to donate, John organized a blood drive as an Eagle Scout Leadership project.
“I found donors and a church to use. I filled the donor schedule and we collected 40 units that day. That number still stands as a record amount in one drive at the Delta Blood Bank.”
While he was attending California Polytechnic State in San Luis Obispo, CA, John continued to donate.
“As a ‘starving’ college student, I had further enticement to give blood because of the good food. The salami, cheese and crackers they provided after the donation was so good it could substitute for a dinner on a college budget!”
Blood donation was always a family affair. John’s younger brothers, Mark and Paul often went with him.
“We had races to see who of us would be able to donate the fastest,” he said. “This Christmas Eve, it was clear to me that youth beats age! Jack had by far the quickest time. It’s those big, wide athletic veins!”
Not to be left out, John’s daughter, Ruby also gives blood regularly.
In a sign of how things have changed in the last year, the Red Cross conducts antibody testing on collected blood. Which provides insight for the donor on whether they may have been exposed to this coronavirus.
For those who have recovered from COVID-19, the Red Cross urges them to give convalescent plasma. Every plasma donation has the opportunity to help up to four patients recover from the virus.
The need for blood is constant, even during a pandemic. To help encourage people to donate, especially those who have recovered from the virus, the Red Cross and the National Football League have teamed up for a unique opportunity. In the month of January, those coming in to donate will be entered to win two tickets to next year’s Super Bowl LVI in Los Angeles.
John Mason wants to encourage everyone who is able to help to take the time to do so.
The Red Cross Cascades Region website has detailed information on the process. There is a donor request form available to download as well.