A decade of giving

George Davies (left) and his daughter Cathy prepare to give blood at an American Red Cross Blood Drive at the Itasca County Courthouse.

Throughout the United States, there is a shortage of blood donors. Organizations, such as the American Red Cross, are working to bring in more donations. Luckily, there are people like George Davies and his daughter, Cathy Davies, who have been donating for the majority of their lives. George and Cathy recently came to the American Red Cross Blood Drive in Grand Rapids on Wednesday, Aug. 28 and spoke about why they continue to give.

Cathy and George spend their summers in Grand Rapids. George figured that the first time he gave blood was sometime in the 1950s, maybe during his time in the military. Donations were not always tracked, so he knows that he has given more than what his donor card states. But he did remember one of the first times he gave blood and why he did it.

“This one time, that I can remember, I was on guard duty, and they needed blood, so I gave blood and they gave me the rest of the day off,” George said.

Cathy was inspired by her dad’s giving and knew she wanted to donate herself when she was in college.

“For me, it’s because my dad had done it,” Cathy said. “And I thought, this is something that doesn’t take that much time and I can help people. And the time may come where I may not be able to.”

Together, George and Cathy have donated more than 25 gallons of blood. Cathy estimates that she has given at least 16 gallons to the American Red Cross and George estimates he has given more than 11 gallons. The two give on a regular basis, trying their best to go every eight weeks. Sometimes there are times that they have to wait longer, such as international travel or health reasons.

One of the benefits to the donor of giving blood is being able to check in on their own health. Aspects such as blood pressure, pulse rate and hemoglobin levels are all checked before someone donates.

“It’s like a mini physical,” Marlyn Halvorson said. “It’s so small, but it’s signs and symptoms of things that can be a whole lot worse if they are not taken care of.” Halvorson is the Itasca County emergency management coordinator and helped organize the blood drive.

Halvorson said the goal for his blood drive was to have 29 donors. By 3 p.m. that afternoon, 24 people had already given and the drive was open until 6 p.m.

Both Cathy and George have seen, firsthand, the effects that a blood donor can have on another person’s life. Each of them has family members that have needed blood transfusions. They reminded that donations go to many types of patients—from trauma to burn to cancer patients.

“It’s a way to help other people without the commitment of money, without a big time commitment,” Cathy said. “It’s just doing something good.”

Halvorson hopes to organize more blood drives in the Grand Rapids area.

“There a lot of people that are donors but they have to travel to donate,” Halvorson said. “So what I’m hearing is they’re really excited about this and asking if we can do this again.”

The America Red Cross reports that every two seconds, someone in the United States needs blood.

“At times, blood and platelets are being distributed to hospitals faster than donations are coming in, which impacts the ability to rebuild the blood supply. Right now, the Red Cross has less than a five-day blood supply on hand. The Red Cross strives to have a five-day supply at all times to meet the needs of patients every day and be prepared for emergencies that may require significant volumes of donated blood products,” according to the American Red Cross website.

To find a blood drive near you, visit redcrossblood.org, calling 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App.

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