Thursday, March 25, 2010

Blood donor heroes

We all know that blood donation saves lives, but statistics show that only 3 of every 100 Americans give blood. In the news, 3 heroes for this very reason:

Americans Maurice Wood, 83, and Al Fischer (pictured), 75, have a friendly rivalry going. They are the only 2 people in the U.S. who have donated 320 pints of blood - that's 40 gallons! Wood crossed the proverbial finish line first, with Fischer reaching the goal in September 2009. "Some people give money," he said. "I give blood. It's my cause and has been for a long time. I haven't stopped. I'm going to keep doing it until I drop." He receives cheers when he turns up at a blood drive and he has received a "Heroglobin Award," but Fischer does it not for the accolades, but to help people in need. "What if your mother needed blood? Would you give blood?" he asked. "What about your brother? How about your next-door neighbor? How about all mankind?"

Australian James Harrison, 74, is called "the man with the golden arm." He has been donating his blood, which contains a rare antibody, for 56 years. His plasma stops babies - including his own grandchild - from getting brain damage or dying from Rhesus disease, a form of anemia. It has also been used to develop a vaccine for pregnant women and newborns. Harrison has donated blood 984 times since requiring a 13-liter transfusion during major chest surgery as a teenager. "I've never thought about stopping. Never," he says. "I was in hospital for three months. The blood I received saved my life so I made a pledge to give blood when I was 18." Harrison's donated blood has saved the lives of more than 2 million babies.

American Jim Becker, 79, began selling his blood four times a year in 1956 to cover the cost of season tickets to the Green Bay Packers football games without breaking the budget of his growing family. After 23 years, Becker found out that he had the same disease that killed his father at age 43, a rare disorder that causes excess iron in his blood - and would have killed him, too, except for having blood drawn regularly. Becker had no idea he had been keeping the disease at bay all these years. "There's no cure for it," he said. "They said the only way to lessen it was to give blood, because the blood draws the iron out of the system." He has therefore helped himself in addition to countless others.

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