A Special Thanks to Our Blood Donors on World Blood Donor Day

By Ashley Festa

University Health appreciates its blood donors every day, and as part of World Blood Donor Day on June 14, we pay a special respect to these people who save lives with each pint they give.

“Our staff love to make our donors feel special,” said Ron Fryar, the quality manager of Transfusion Medicine Services. “Without our donors, we couldn’t care for our patients. This all comes purely from the generosity of our donors.”

University Hospital is the largest transfuser of blood in the greater San Antonio area, serving tens of thousands of patients each year. Those grateful patients may have any number of medical conditions that require blood transfusion: 

  • Someone in our Level I trauma center who has suffered a major trauma, such as a car crash or serious burn 
  • A cancer patient whose body can no longer make platelets or red blood cells
  • A liver transplant patient who needs the generosity of at least six donors for a successful surgery
  • A woman with a high-risk pregnancy who may have serious bleeding during delivery

And that’s only naming a few types of patients who might otherwise die without the kindness of our blood donors.

It’s About Community

This year’s World Blood Donor Day theme—Give Blood and Keep the World Beating—highlights the need for safe blood all over the world, including our Bexar County community. San Antonio is a big city with a small-town feel, and that sentiment rings true when it comes to people coming together to help others. 

In times of tragedy, like when victims of the Sutherland Springs church shooting arrived in San Antonio needing blood transfusions, our donors—many who donated for the first time—stepped up to meet that need. 

We encourage our donors to come back regularly to give blood because the need never goes away at University Hospital—not even during a pandemic lockdown. 

“We were especially grateful that our donors, especially our own employees, kept showing up to give blood even in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis,” said Debra Serna, the senior laboratory manager for Blood Donor Services. “At first, we were concerned we might have a big dip in donations, but our donors never stopped coming, and we were so thankful.”

Your Lifesaving Gift at Work

Rest assured—every blood unit you give goes to a patient in need.

“Blood is a precious commodity with a limited shelf life, and our staff work diligently to make sure none of our blood products expire before they can go to a patient,” Fryar said. 

Red blood cells are refrigerated for up to 42 days, and you can make a donation every eight weeks. Platelets must be kept at room temperature and used within five days, so we are constantly encouraging donors to come in regularly to give platelets—every two weeks, if you’re able!

Thank You, From the Bottom of Our Heart

Without a doubt, our blood donors save lives, and we are thankful for each of them. 

“World Blood Donor Day is recognized worldwide to thank those who volunteer to donate blood to help in the treatment of others. Without them, providing quality health care would be extremely difficult,” said Fryar, who noted that the World Health Organization chose June 14 as World Blood Donor Day to recognize the birthday of Austrian immunologist Karl Landsteiner, who identified the A, B and O blood groups in 1901.  

“University Health Blood Donor Services is excited to celebrate World Blood Donor Day and to recognize our donors who don’t let challenges keep them from making this lifesaving donation,” Serna said. “Our hope is that by raising awareness on this day, we can encourage new donors to give the gift of life.”

If you’re interested in donating blood, we would love to welcome you in our Blood Donor Room. Call us at 210-358-2812, or schedule your appointment online. Find out more about blood donation at University Hospital, including whether you’re eligible to donate as well as information about our special blood donation programs, on our Blood Donor Services webpage.

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