Give the Gift of Life, Donate Blood

Published 10:35 am Sunday, April 10, 2022

Donating blood is most important to every person alive today.

My passion has always been law enforcement, enforcing our laws, and being of service to our communities. I developed another passion later in my career.

As police officers, we were required to take a Cardiopulmonary, Resuscitation (CPR) class through the American Heart Association (AHA). Along with learning CPR, the course involved education on reducing disability and death from cardiovascular disease and stroke by learning about associated risk factors.

I worked hard learning and became a CPR Instructor, an Instructor Trainer, and was ultimately appointed as an AHA Virginia State Affiliate Faculty member. I was appointed as State Chairman for Basic Life Support.

The Masonic Grand Lodge of Virginia also appointed me to serve as the Masonic Community Blood Program Chairman, advocating blood donations. Through these times, I continued to study heart and lung function and reduce disability and death by reducing risk factors. I was a regular lecturer on these subjects, taught CPR, and monitored rescue squads and hospitals for AHA training center compliance.

I served as a staff instructor at the Northern Virginia Criminal Justice Academy and participated in many health fairs. I also owned a part-time CPR business, “Keith & Annie.”

As a devoted blood donor, I donated 2 gallons of whole blood and made 251 platelet donations over 20 years. I felt this was the ultimate in community service by giving the gift of life and teaching others about prevention.

Many people have looked for ways to serve their fellow man but felt they did not have the financial or other means to do so. Donating blood products is the answer, as I found it to be. The purpose of blood is to carry oxygen to all parts of the body, sustaining life and preserving body organ function. The average heart beats (expands and contracts) approximately 100,000 times daily, pumping 2,000 gallons of blood.

Studies show that one out of every ten persons will require donated blood before age 70. Care of one transplant patient could require blood products donated by as many as 60 to 80 donors. One critically injured patient may require 40 to 60 units of blood products in hours.

There are several health benefits to donating blood. For example, donating blood 2 or 3 times each year can reduce heart attacks for some people by as much as 50%. The reason is that Hemoglobin/Iron levels are reduced. Hemoglobin is the Iron-containing oxygen transport content in red blood cells.

Hemoglobin in the blood carries oxygen from the respiratory organs to the other organs and tissues of the body. High levels are a significant contributing factor in clogging arteries causing heart attack and stroke. Another reason for donating is to reduce the possible risk of colon cancer, lung cancer, and possibly bladder and esophagus cancer. Excessive blood iron has been linked to these cancers.

To donate blood or platelets, the donor must be in good general health, weigh at least 110 pounds, and be 16 years old. Unfortunately, 16-year-olds are not eligible to donate platelets. No parental consent is required for those at least 17 years old. For those 76 years old or older, a doctor’s written approval is required for a blood or platelet donation.

Good health means that you feel well and can carry out normal daily activities.

Give the gift of life by donating blood and participating in a CPR Course.

Keith Throckmorton (Fairfax County Police, Ret.)