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Gary Landers of Cicero started donating whole blood as soon as he was old enough. He worked for a company that encouraged employees to give blood, and in fact, what first sparked his interest was that his employers paid him for the hour he donated. “You start donating sometimes for selfish reasons, when I was a young adult I donated for the incentives, but once you realize how valuable donating is you want to do it because it’s the right thing to do,” said Gary.
Gary didn’t realize just how valuable his donations were until tragedy struck his family, in 2003, Gary’s niece Ashley was diagnosed with brain cancer. Ashley, who lives in New Hampshire, had two brain surgeries to remove the tumors. She also went through a series of chemotherapy treatments. One day she needed a transfusion of 11 platelet doses. “If she didn’t get those platelets she wouldn’t be here today,” Gary remarks.
Once Gary learned how important platelets were for cancer patients like his niece, he became an Apheresis donor. Gary gives platelets at least six times a year to help replenish the supply. “Somebody else kept my niece alive so I just want to give back. I know what it meant to her, the platelets gave her a shot of life.”
Today, Ashley is cancer free and she goes in for check-ups every three months. Luckily, she has people like her uncle to thank for helping save her life.
—Gary Landers - Cicero, NY
Those who participate in donating blood or platelets May 27-31 will receive a free Red Cross T-shirt, while supplies last.
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