A blood supply shortage continues across the nation, according to the American Red Cross, but donors like 73-year-old Sue Cox-Pyatt continue making a difference one pint at a time.
For over half a century Cox-Pyatt has been donating blood — a lot of it, a total of 28 gallons to be exact.
One pint of blood has the potential to save three lives, according to Rachel Flanigan, executive director of the Red Cross’ Southern Nevada chapter.
In Cox-Pyatt’s case, that means over the past 50 years, she has potentially saved nearly 700 lives.
“The thought hasn’t even crossed my mind that it could add up like that,” she said. “It’s a small way to help people.”
In the U.S. just 3 percent of the eligible population donates blood out of 62 percent of the population, Flanigan said. Those donors, she said, are consistently donating blood and keeping the supply flowing.
Cox-Pyatt also has a personal reason to be grateful for blood donors like herself.
Her husband needed a blood transfusion after a disease started coming back in his kidney and bone marrow which brought his hemoglobin count down. He was taken straight to a hospital in St. George, Utah.
“If no one donated, he wouldn’t be here today,” Cox-Pyatt said. “I’m very appreciative of people that do donate.”
Often those who were saved by a blood transfusion become consistent blood donors as they are grateful for the kindness of others, Flanigan said.
The Red Cross keeps up with the latest research and has changed a lot of eligibility questions to match the science. To see an updated list of frequently asked questions, check the website at redcrossblood.org.
“The Red Cross supplies about 40 percent of the national blood,” Flanigan said.
Donors can track the journey and feel the impact of potentially saving someone’s life through the Red Cross app, according to Flanigan. The app allows donors to know when their blood is being used.
The first time Cox-Pyatt donated blood was in 1967 at her high school in Cascade High School in Montana, home of the badgers. She started donating consistently 2 years later.
“I got to thinking after leaving [my last job],” Cox-Pyatt said. “You hear the announcement for the need for blood, we all have enough stuff. Instead of buying more stuff, go donate blood and give the gift of life.”