Monday, June 25, 2012

Tomorrow is a big day!

A page in my diary of the first 37 blood donations I gave

June 26, 2012 will always be a special day for me, as tomorrow I will be donating my 100th pint of blood in the local Blood Drive being held at the Nazarene church, in Baker City. It all started on July 15th 1984. I had gained enough weight after being in the USA for 3 years that I could finally donate blood. When I was in Malta, I was always underweight, at 120 lbs, a skinny priest who started to beef himself up when he came to the USA in 1981.
Our own parish at Holy Spirit in New Hyde Park was organizing a bi-annual blood drive, and there I gave my first pint of blood. I felt a little dizzy at first, and not knowing what to expect, they told me it was pretty normal. I spent the rest of the day in Rectory feeling very well, drinking lots of water, and being treated to a steak dinner in the evening with all the other priests. That was the only time I felt pampered or treated extra-nice, because the rest of the story is pretty simple – going to give blood became as ordinary as going to the local library.

Blood donations from 1994 till present

And here I am on June 26, 2012, almost 28 years later in Baker City, OREGON donating my 100th point, something which I always felt good doing, while encouraging others to donate blood regularly. For this centennial donation, I have encouraged 10 other people to start donating with me, most of them young people in the parish who have never donated before, or who have donated a few times years ago and stopped. I wanted to commemorate this milestone by having at least 10 new donors, realizing that trying to get 100 new donors is a Herculean undertaking. But at least we have 10 new donors who will hopefully continue to give on a regular basis, as I did when I started.
Over the years, a few of my parishes were responsible of organizing the Blood Drives, while here in Oregon, other churches have that privilege. But back between 1991 and 1996, while I was stationed in Rocky Point, again on Long Island, NY, I went over and beyond campaigning for blood donors. Besides making pulpit announcements after the weekend Masses, I had created a database with all the people who had donated in the past, and made sure to call them a day or two earlier, so that they too can donate a pint of their precious blood. For a few years we always got anywhere between 120 and 130 donors on a regular basis, within 6 hours, that is between 2 PM and 8 PM. By 1994 the numbers were still rising and in January 1995 I was able to get 157 donors to donate – a record for a Blood Drive within a Church sponsored drive. I know that was an incredible number of donors, but people collaborated with me, knowing how much at heart I had this humanitarian project. They all chipped in, helping us break the record. I wonder if anyone ever broke it since then. (To be continued - make sure to click on the diary pages to enlarge)

1 comment:

  1. You'll call D day tomorrow well done. Here all media persist daily the need of more blood donors as last week some operations couldn't be done. Good luck and congrats