Wallace Dupuis has been a blood donor since 1967. And last December, at the Knights of Columbus blood drive he sponsored in Swartz Creek, he reached a milestone for donation: 23 gallons of blood! “I try to give blood five times a year, but it doesn’t always happen,” he says, adding that a donor has to wait 59 days before they can give blood again. He first began donating with his co-workers when he was very young and working at General Motors Service Parts Organization (SPO).
Then, the reason he did it became a little more personal. A very good childhood friend had hepatitis and Wallace resolved to give blood to honor him. “I would give as much blood as I could to help him,” says Wallace. His friend passed away at the age of 46. Wallace continued to donate when another friend discovered he had diabetes. He also gives blood frequently because of his rare blood type – O Negative – which only 6.6 percent of the population reportedly has. In the event of an emergency, trauma patients and accident victims are given a fighting chance at life due to O Negative blood transfusions. “My blood can be given to almost anybody,” Wallace reports. “I would get a call from someone saying they needed blood for a baby at the hospital. It always made me feel I was doing something good for someone.”
“Become a blood donor, just give it a try. It’s a good feeling to help people.”
Wallace has lived in Swartz Creek for 50 years and always helps with his hometown blood drive at the Methodist Church. “I try to stay local,” he laughs. But all of the donated blood goes to the American Red Cross, which disperses it where ever there is a need, and he always receives a card with notification as to where the blood went.
Retired from GM for 20 years now, a lot of Wallace’s time is spent helping other people. He works at the Food Pantry, is involved with the Knights of Columbus and continues to give blood. “I think it’s our duty to give blood,” he says. “Become a blood donor, just give it a try. It’s a good feeling to help people.”
According to Colleen O’Callaghan, Account Manager Donor Recruitment with the American Red Cross in Genesee County, the purpose of National Blood Donor Month is to bring awareness to the importance of giving blood and platelets and honoring people like Wallace who donate.
The ARC reports that the winter months can be an especially difficult time to collect enough blood and platelets to meet patients’ needs. Inclement weather can result in blood drive cancellations, and seasonal illnesses, like the flu, can prevent some people from making or keeping appointments to give. Donors with all blood types, especially AB, O, B Negative and A Negative, and platelet donors are encouraged to make donation appointments.
You can save lives during National Blood Donor Month. Resolve to give blood or platelets to the American Red Cross this year!
HOW TO DONATE
AMERICAN RED CROSS DONATION CENTER
1401 S. Grand Traverse St., Flint
January is National Blood Donor Month. Download the American Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit RedCrossBlood.org or call 1.800.733.2767 to make an appointment or for more info. All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply. A blood donor card, driver’s license, or two other forms of I.D. are required at check-in.
In most states, individuals 17 and older (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in good general health may be eligible to donate. High school students and other donors 18 and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.
Donors can now save time at their next donation by using RapidPass to complete the pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on their donation day, prior to arriving at a blood drive. To get started and learn more, visit RedCrossBlood.org/RapidPass and follow instructions on the site.
Photo by Eric Dutro