Blood donors in giving mood on Christmas Eve

FORT WORTH -- Dressed in a festive holiday sweater, Sue Ott still had a few things left on her to-do list Friday morning.

Stop by the zoo to buy tickets for a friend.

Make preparations to spend Christmas Eve at my daughter's house.

Give blood.

She put the last one first.

"Usually my best friend and I come together, but I knew she was busy this morning so I came by myself," said Ott, clenching her fist as blood pumped from her arm.

"It's no big deal. I didn't make an appointment. I just walked in."

Ott, 56, was among several people who donated blood Friday morning at the Carter BloodCare's Rosedale Donor Center in Fort Worth.

"It's the gift you never have to return," said Linda Goelzer, a spokeswoman for Carter BloodCare.

"It truly is a pretty exciting thing. Ordinary people can give this extraordinary thing to a total stranger."

Glen Harmon, 50, who was sporting a red Santa hat and a smile, said he started donating blood about 15 years ago at the request of friend whose wife was having surgery.

"While they were taking my blood, they told me that I had blood that they could use for babies and I could be a regular donor," Harmon said.

"So I started coming semiregularly. And then, one of the phlebotomist thanked me for coming because so few African-American men give blood. So I made it my mission to give as regularly as possible."

On this day, Harmon was actually giving two units of red cells, a blood component that is in high demand when someone loses a large amount of blood from trauma or surgery. "I'm giving my Christmas gift," he said. "The world would be a better place if more people did it. It's a personal obligation for me."

Bigger need

Each year, Carter BloodCare -- Texas' largest blood center, with 26 donation locations -- supplies more than 350,000 units of blood to patients in 200 Texas health facilities, including children's hospitals, trauma centers, cancer and transplant centers.

Each day, more than 600 area patients rely on blood transfusions to survive.

To keep up with demand, Carter BloodCare needs 1,100 donors daily.

During the winter holidays, they need even more, partly because more people are involved in accidents and schedule surgeries during this time.

"The holidays are real unpredictable times for us," Goelzer said. "It's hard to keep blood donation on top of your mind."

A special blood drive is being held Sunday at three Metroplex locations, including the Rosedale Donor Center.

'I wanted to come in'

Keenan Callahan, 27, said he made a point to come in on Christmas Eve and give platelets, which are in high demand by cancer patients whose own platelets are depleted by radiation. Because not everyone can donate platelets, Callahan regularly gives that specific component of blood.

"I got in a motorcycle accident back in 2004, and I figured enough people gave blood for me to have surgeries and I might as well give back," said Callahan, who fit it in before lunch with his mother and spending Christmas Eve at his sister-in-laws.

"I knew this was a low donor time because everyone else is busy. I wanted to come in and do it."

And while Harmon and Callahan had appointments on Friday morning, others walked in off the street.

Mark Ashford, 50, of Arlington, was finishing up some work Friday morning when the thought suddenly struck him to give blood.

The fact that it was Christmas wasn't lost on him either.

"That had some effect, sure," he said.

He headed over to Carter BloodCare and, after a quick screening process and a mini-physical, he happily rolled up his sleeves.

"I would rather do this twice than go to the mall," Ashford quipped.

Melody McDonald,


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