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Cedric Baker, left, U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Chandler Baker, 633d Air Base Wing Public Affairs broadcast journalist, center, and Rebecca Villescas-Baker, pose for a photo in Glen House, New Hampshire, Sept. 29, 2018. Both Cedric and Rebecca received lifesaving blood transfusions provided by donors. (Courtesy Photo)

JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS

I get it; needles make some people squeamish. But what if I told you that facing your trypanophobia, the fear of medical procedures involving injection, could save up to three lives? Would you go for it? That’s what donating blood can do.

According to the American Red Cross, a blood transfusion is needed every two seconds. One in seven people admitted to hospitals need blood. Your donation could be the difference between life and death for someone in need. That someone might be a loved one.

In 2009 my brother Cedric was diagnosed with H1N1, a strain of swine flu. He developed double pneumonia in his lungs and began developing an infection in his liver. He was airlifted from one hospital to another one to get him on an oscillator to filter his blood. Cedric needed three blood transfusions. After more than a month in the intensive care unit, he survived. Had he not received blood, he would not be here today.

Because of my brother, three days after my 18th birthday, I donated blood for the first time. I’ve now donated more than a dozen times.

My wife, Becca, has an auto-immune disorder that fluctuates the amount of white blood cells her body has. In 2017, her WBC count and blood platelet count dropped to a dangerously low level, causing her dizziness, blurred vision and headaches. Normal WBC counts range from 4,000 per microliter to 11,000 per microliter. Her level was 3,800 per microliter. I brought her to the emergency room where they were able to diagnose the low counts and get her the plasma and platelets she needed to live. Had plasma and platelets not been available, she may have died.

If those personal stories aren’t enough, perhaps some facts will sway you.

According to the Armed Services Blood Program, a pint of blood on average will save three lives. Yes, three lives. You have the power to help a car accident victim go home to their family.[DA1] You have the power to help a service member wounded in combat receive a proper homecoming from their deployment. You have the power to help a premature infant survive to live a long, healthy life. You can affect all this change, just by giving a pint of your blood.

Donating blood doesn’t just have a positive effect on others, it has one on you as well.

According to Rasmussen College, regularly donating blood can reveal potential health problems, reduce harmful iron stones and lower your risk of suffering a heart attack or developing cancer. When you donate, your blood is checked for diseases, viruses and potential problems.

The thing is, blood isn’t something that can be synthetically manufactured. It’s something that needs to be donated. According to the American Red Cross, only 37 percent of the U.S. population is eligible to donate blood, but less than 10 percent actually donate. To break that down further, according to the 2018 U.S. Census Bureau estimate, the U.S. population was over 327 million. That means roughly 121 million are eligible to donate and less than 32 million actually do.

So now you want to donate and help save lives! The Armed Services Blood Program holds blood drives around the U.S. and overseas installations. Go to www.militarydonor.com to find a drive near you and schedule an appointment. Through the Armed Services Blood Program, your donation will go directly to a service member in need. If you want to donate sooner, you can find other drives in your local area through organizations like the American Red Cross, which has local centers that take walk in or scheduled appointments for donation.

Your generosity will save lives.

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