Blood donors ‘pay it forward’ to honor community heroes

July 2, 2016 GMT

WEST JORDAN — Less than six months ago, West Jordan police officer Cory Jensen was paralyzed after contracting Guillain-Barre syndrome, a rare disease which his wife said is “excruciatingly painful.”

Immediately after his diagnosis, Jensen underwent five consecutive days of blood transfusions, which may have saved his life.

Jensen is not the only one who has been saved from benevolent blood donors. According to theRed Cross, someone in the U.S. needs blood every two seconds.

In preparation for the Fourth of July weekend, Utahns were asked to honor their heroes and give back to the community at two Red Cross blood drives in Salt Lake City and West Jordan Friday.

Donors of all blood types are needed to help fulfill blood supply needs throughout the country, Red Cross officials say. These blood donations are distributed immediately to hospitals, to help fulfill increasing summertime needs due to growing accident rates.

“By setting aside about one hour of time in advance of the holiday weekend, donors can help make sure blood is on hospital shelves and available when needed,” Jessica Winkel, local market manager for the Lewis & Clark Red Cross Blood Services Region, said in a statement.

Immediately following his diagnosis, Jensen underwent five hours a day of blood transfusions for five consecutive days in efforts to stop the negative progression of his illness. It was the immediate blood availability that helped him overcome paralysis and sent him on his road to recovery.

Jensen said she felt “elated” when she heard that doctors could use antibodies from generous donors’ blood to save her husband.

“I felt like we were gonna make it,” she said.

Jensen and her family decided to host a blood drive Friday to “pay it forward,” showing gratitude to those who donated blood and make it possible for her husband to receive blood transfusions right away.

The blood drive in West Jordan was triple booked. Jensen said she was amazed by the number of volunteer community and neighborhood members who came to support.

The Red Cross organized another blood drive at its blood donation center at 6616 S. 900 East on Friday, inviting donors to “honor your hero” this Independence Day weekend.

Blake Wright, of Riverton, donated Friday, which is not unusual for him. Wright has been donating blood platelets twice a month for over 20 years. The process takes about 1 ½ to 2 hours each time.

Wright, just like many other donors, said he donates blood solely to help. “Its a way to give back, because I’ve been really blessed and I’m grateful,” he said.

“You can’t go to the store and buy (blood products). It has to come from us,” Wright said.

He said he wants to give back to those who suffer and also those who have gone before him and given their lives for the country.

“Its part of who we are as a community and as a nation. We really should and do take care of each other,” he said.

Individuals who want to donate can visitredcrossblood.org, call 1-800-733-2767 or even download for free theAmerican Red Cross Blood Donor App.