GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - Since January is National Blood Donor Month, the days throughout the month are set aside to recognize the lifesaving contributions of blood donors. They’re also meant to encourage more people to roll up their sleeves and donate.
Two people inspired to give the gift of life did just that on Tuesday. Pass Christan brother and sister, Betty Sparkman and Richard Douglas, were running errands when they decided to give the gift of life, something they’ve taken seriously for more than four decades. They ended up making a pit stop at the Gulf Coast Event Center to partake in National Blood Donor Month.
″There are a lot of shortages, so when I get the call, I try to work it in to help," Douglas said.
Sparkman also noted that the act of donating blood does not take long, and it helps a substantial amount of people.
National Blood Donor Month has been observed in January since 1970. It’s one of the most difficult times of year to collect enough blood to meet patients’ needs, so the goal of increasing blood and platelet donations is during winter.
Organizations such as the Red Cross count on regular donors from people like Douglas and Sparkman to donate a few times each year. Regular donors are a big part of their success, so the more people that pitch in and help, the better.
“Every time I can, they’ll call and remind me," Sparkman said. "And why not? I can’t say enough...it’s so easy.”
Betty wants people to know it’s not something to fear, and the process is rather speedy. She said it is especially fast if an appointment is made ahead of time and if the rapid pass is used.
And after it’s all over, a sticker that reads, “I make a difference" is given to donors. Douglas is one who wears his proudly.
"I do like to wear mine as long as possible... it’s almost like “I voted,” said Douglas.
To find a blood donation drive near you, visit https://www.redcrossblood.org/give.html/find-drive.