During Red Cross Month, we honor people who make the lifesaving mission of the American Red Cross possible.

Heather DeVito of Oneida County is a long-time blood donor. In her own words, she recalls her first donation and describes her ongoing commitment to giving blood.

What motivated you to make your first donation?

“I wanted to help. Even as a young child, doing something, anything, for others whether for a person or an animal was written in my character. As a universal blood donor,  I started donating as soon as I was legally able to.

“I remember one time when I was about 19, there was a big story on the news about officers, and maybe military as well, who were in critical condition from some big event that transpired on Long Island. The news outlets and radio stations were running concurrent stories begging people to donate, especially if they were O-. When I arrived at work, everyone was talking about it, and with such conviction. I went to my boss with tears in my eyes and said, ‘I have to go. I have to give. They’re desperate, and they’re calling  for O-. Please let me go’ I worked for the most wonderful man who just nodded, and said, ‘Good job. Go.’ There were lines of people at the emergency location(s) set up to take blood. A Red Cross worker walked back and forth, asking those in line if anyone was O- and my arm shot up. I was pulled off the line and sent with the small group of other O- donors, and I remembered feeling like a superhero. Not because I had done anything note-worthy, mind you, but because by happenstance I had been born with this magical blood that could help virtually anyone. Not sharing it would be selfish.

“Giving blood is by far the easiest thing anyone can do while having the added benefit of knowing I was potentially going to help save a life. Not by being a doctor, or paramedic, or in direct line of defense with police or military, but in a simple, quiet way from the sidelines. When the doctors and paramedics have done all they can do, my donation can help, or when the those protecting us make the sacrifice and they need my blood, it gives me a sense that at least in the smallest way, I’m doing something; that I’m part of the team. That wasn’t my first donation that day, and it certainly hasn’t been my last. I’ve been donating ever since.

“The last donation I made was a Power Red, and it was followed by an email telling me specifically who my donation helped, and I got welled up with tears reading it. I saved the email and I use it as a reminder that when things get busy, it’s so easy and convenient to do the one, simple act of kindness to go donate, and I’ll continue to donate for as long as I’m eligible to do so.”

What would you tell someone who is considering blood donation for the first time?

“Do it. It’s the absolute easiest thing you can do to save a life. Think about a pregnant mother, a child fighting for their life, a hero who put themselves in harm’s way to defend you, maybe even a family member you know that once needed a transfusion, or the countless other everyday people whose families need them to survive. Know that your donation may provide that one, lifesaving measure that no one else can give them in that moment but you.”

Lend an arm to help save lives

One in seven patients entering a hospital needs a blood transfusion. Having an ample supply of all blood types is critically important. Having an ample supply of all blood types is critically important. Will you lend an arm to help?

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