You don't need a special reason to give blood–you just need your own reason.
For Leon Tauer, he says his reason is to give back.
"Accidents are something that people don't think will happen to them," said Leon of a farming accident nearly 30 years ago that required him to receive 40 units of blood over the course of a 21-day hospital stay.
It happened on May 13, 1984.
Leon was outside filling the planter with fertilizer to do a couple more passes before him and his wife, Lorraine, headed into town for the Cadillac supper.
"Back in those days we could buy a raffle ticket for $100 a piece and a chance to win a car," Leon explained.
He was alone on the farm yard filling up the planter to finish out the day.
Thankfully, his son, Loren, was in a nearby field and happened to come on the yard and see his Dad laying on the ground.
"He stopped when he saw me laying in the yard and asked me what happened," Loren recalled. "I remember telling him my head hurt."
What Leon believes happened is that while he was filling up the planter the tractor moved and ran him over. His family rushed him to the hospital where Dr. Murthy put in seven stitches under his eye. Loren said that is the last thing he remembers for the next 21 days.
"The rest of the story is just what I've been told," Leon added.
It was decided at the Sleepy Eye Medical Center that Leon's condition was serious enough that he would need to be transferred. After some collaboration with the family, it was decided that Leon would be flown by helicopter to St. Mary's Hospital in Rochester.
It was discovered after the transfer that Leon had suffered seven broken ribs, a punctured lung and his liver had been cut in three places, which Leon added, was the reason he needed so much blood.
On the helicopter ride to the hospital, Leon said he was told he received 8 units of blood, his heart stopped beating and he stopped breathing somewhere over Owatonna.
Once arriving at St. Mary's, and after determining the extent of Leon's injuries, he was taken to surgery where his liver was packed with gauze. He remained unconscious for 10 days. Three days after the first surgery, Leon said he was told that his kidneys began to fail and at that time two gallons of blood had been pumped from his stomach from the liver lacerations. Throughout his 21-day stay at St. Mary's Hospital in Rochester, Leon said he received a total of 40 units of blood.
Page 2 of 2 - "You think something like this will never happen to you, but it does happen," Leon said. "That's why giving blood is so important."
After 15 days, Leon was moved from the intensive care unit where, according to Leon, it was just a matter of laying in bed and healing.
Today, Leon still farms with his son, Loren, and looks forward to turning 81 on Jan. 11. He says without the help of his wife, Lorraine, who has been with him every step of the way, the dedicated Red Cross Bloodmobile coordinators and the gift of blood, Leon wouldn't be where he is today.
"I'm very thankful to be here and the people who donate blood are amazing," Leon added. "Give blood. I'm proof that it can save a life."
On Jan. 14 the American Red Cross will hold a bloodmobile at the Eagles Orchid Inn, 500 Burnside, from 1 to 7 p.m.
"Donating blood is one of the simplest things you can do to help save a patient's life," said Geoff Kaufmann, CEO of the Red Cross North Central Blood Services Region. "For the hour it takes to give blood, there could be a whole community of people thankful for another birthday you have given to their loved one."
According to the American Red Cross, every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood. In 2006, the American Red Cross collected 16 million donations in the U.S. with 9.5 million people donating.
Donating blood is a safe process and takes four simple steps: registration, medical history and a mini-physical, donation and refreshments. During the mini-physical, the donor's temperature, blood pressure, pulse and hemoglobin are checked to ensure it is safe for the donor to give blood. The actual blood donation typically takes 10-12 minutes, while the entire process from the time the donor arrives until they leave takes just over an hour. All donated blood is tested for HIV, hepatitis B and C, syphilis and other infectious diseases before it is released to hospitals.
There are four types of transfusable products that can be derived from blood: red cells, platelets, plasma and cryoprecipitate. Typically, two or three of these are produced from a pint of donated whole blood. Each donation can save up to three lives.
Type O-negative blood is needed in emergencies before the patient's blood type is known and for newborns who need blood.
The American Red Cross blood program started in 1940 and supplies approximately 40 percent of the nation's blood supply and for patients in nearly 3,000 hospitals across the U.S.