It started out modestly on a chilly day – the last day of the year in 2002. Joanne (my wife) and I started a community blood drive at Asbury on December 31 that year, and collected 34 units of blood. It was a successful drive and I remember my mom saying to me later, “Great job, you’re done now, right?” “No Mom, we’re just getting started. The American Red Cross needs blood all year around.”
We sponsored a blood drive every two months until February 2013, when we switched to a monthly drive. We knew that the number of people giving blood at each drive would drop, but we hoped that as they spread out among the extra dates, that the numbers would come back up at each drive. We were right.
We’ve now held 93 blood drives, and collected exactly 4600 units of blood during that time. Nearly 1900 individuals have come through to donate blood in that time. It’s now the largest and most successful community blood drive in the Bay Area. There are larger drives, like at UC Berkeley and corporate drives at LLNL/Sandia, but we are the largest community drive.
Nationally, the average donor only gives blood 1.7 times per year. If we could just get everyone to give two times per year, the blood shortages could be solved. I got to thinking about our Asbury church community and the donors that come to our drive. It’s clear that we have a core set of people who keep coming back over and over to donate blood, and far exceed the 1.7 donations per year.
I asked the Red Cross for a report of everyone who had donated at our drives, and how many units they’ve given (ever). Sorting the list, I came up with 108 current and past Asbury members who have donated blood at our drive. I tallied those numbers up, and we Asburyites are a giving bunch. It came to a whopping 2304 units or approximately 266 gallons of blood! Those 2304 units have directly impacted about 6900 people’s lives, because each unit of blood is typically divided into three components (red blood cells, plasma and platelets), which can be distributed to three different people.
The Asbury 5 Gallon Club
I got to digging even further into the numbers, and we have an amazing bunch of blood donors who have a long history of giving blood. Of the 108 people from Asbury, 37 people have donated two or more gallons of blood. Of those, 18 or nearly 50% have donated at least five gallons of blood! Wow. In order to donate five gallons, you have to have successfully donated 40 units of blood, and that takes nearly seven years to accomplish that feat at the maximum donation rate of six times per year.
Of those people, we have six that have actually exceeded ten gallons of blood donations, including me. (I received my ten gallon pin last August.)
I was proud today to present donation pins from the American Red Cross as thanks to those who have been so generous in their time and giving back to society, way exceeding the normal donation rates. These are the folks that are in what I’m now calling the “5 Gallon Club”, and by themselves have donated over 150 gallons:
Tim Ackerman – 17 gallons (wow!)
Daniel Donovan – 14 gallons
Coleman Johnson – 13 gallons
Roger Everett – 12 gallons
Tony Gnecco – 12 gallons
Thomas Petty – 10 gallons
Bob Cowgill – 8 gallons
Nancy Deis – 8 gallons
Don Faul – 8 gallons
Joanne Petty – 7 gallons
Dave Braun – 6 gallons
Karen Faraldo – 6 gallons
Art Molvik – 6 gallons
Jean Braun – 5 gallons
Evelynne Schwartz – 5 gallons
Abdul Sughayar – 5 gallons
Joyce Suter – 5 gallons
John Van Scyoc – 5 gallons
I’m amazed at what we’ve been able to accomplish, and how giving people at Asbury are.
My wife, Joanne, is no longer able to give blood due to some health issues. She herself was the recipient of nearly four gallons of plasma just last year during an extended hospital stay. This probably helped save her life when she was so sick. Bay Area hospitals need about 300 units of blood every day, seven days a week. We do not have enough donors to keep up with the demand, and actually have to import blood from other parts of the country.
If you are 17 or older (16 years old with parental consent), in generally good health, and want to donate blood, please go to www.redcrossblood.org and search for a drive near you. To donate at the next Asbury drive, use ASBURY925 as the sponsor code.
My wife and I thank you, as do the countless others who have survived another day because of generous blood donors like our Asbury family.