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“One of my favorite and most loyal blood donors, Lorraine Yager walked in for her donation appointment recently,” said DyAnn Getting, American Red Cross blood drive coordinator. “I knew she was O-positive, so I said, ‘You know, Lorraine, at your age I’ll bet there’s not much that you haven’t already done, but guess what? I think I might have something new for you to try!’ I’d been thinking about ways to capture some double red cell donors and Lorraine seemed like a perfect candidate. I explained the difference between whole blood donation and double red cell donation, how she fit the criteria and how she could double her donation gift in just one sitting. Lorraine knew the importance of her O-positive blood type, so she said okay!” The extra 15 to 20 minutes it takes to donate double red cells was not a problem for Yager. And when asked if the experience was surprising in any other aspect, she said, “I couldn’t feel any difference. The only thing I did feel was a little coolness when the fluids were returned to my body, but I drank a cup of hot coffee and that took care of it.” Yager has a long history of regular whole blood donation. “The first time I ever gave blood was on December 6, 1953,” she said. “I have all of my donation cards – my whole donor history. One time when my husband and I were on our way to Florida, we saw a Red Cross bloodmobile in Atlanta, Georgia and pulled over to donate!” She also tells a story of how firsthand experience of the need for blood can quickly educate and change policies – in her particular instance, workplace policies. “I had a job at a local ice cream company,” she said. “Since I have O-positive blood, the local hospital used to call me up to donate when they needed it. I would always check with my manager to see if it was okay to leave and if he said yes, I’d punch out on the time-clock when I left, go donate and punch back in when I returned. At one point, the owner’s wife became ill and needed blood. The hospital called me and as I was getting ready to punch out to go donate, the owner walked up to me and said, ‘You don’t need to punch out. Just go!’ You see, his wife’s illness had shown him the importance of donating blood.” More recently and closer to home, Yager’s nephew’s son needed two pints of blood for surgery to correct a venous-arterial disorder within his brain. “He was 16 years old,” she said. “He needed surgery to cauterize some veins and arteries. It was a 10-hour operation. He’s fine now, but you see, you never know when you or someone in your family is going to need blood.” Yager received her 12-gallon pin recently and said, “Give or take a few health problems I’ve had along the way, I keep giving blood whenever I can and will keep working toward my 13-gallon pin! I tell folks who are surprised at how often I donate that I’m the one who gets the new blood!” Getting said when she asked Yager if she’d donate double red cells again, Yager said “Sure!” But Getting added, “There’s a downside to that for me though, because I won’t get to see her as often. Only once every 112 days instead of every 56 days. She is such a neat lady!”
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