Employee saves more than 280 lives donating blood
American Red Cross volunteers assist Soldiers and civilians giving blood during Fort Riley's quarterly blood drive Aug. 17 and 18 at Craig Fitness Center. More than 90 donors gave 106 pints of blood, which will be used to supply Irwin Army Community Hospital, Fort Riley, Kan., and surrounding area hospitals.

FORT RILEY, Kan. - Larry Duch has donated more than 10 gallons of blood since his college days at Kansas State University.

"In 1968, I was a freshman at K-State and they had a blood drive, where if you donated blood, you got a free pitcher of beer," he said.

Duch, who works with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, U.S. Army Garrison operations, said he keeps donating blood for the people who are unable to donate.

His Red Cross donor card, which keeps track of how much blood he has donated, currently has a total of 81 pints listed. Those 81 pints have helped save more than 280 lives.

Duch said he has no ultimate goal in mind, but plans to keep giving.

"I enjoy thinking about who is going to be helped when I donate blood," he said, adding he frequently gives blood at the Fort Riley blood drives.

More than 90 donors gave 106 pints of blood to the American Red Cross Aug. 17 and 18 at Craig Fitness Center, during Fort Riley's quarterly blood drive.

Ron Gilmore, team supervisor for the American Red Cross, said summer is when the Red Cross has the highest need for blood, because it is the slowest time for donations because high schools and colleges are not in session.

"The need is constant and the gratification is instant," Gilmore said, adding one pint of blood can save up to three lives.

Blood donated in August will supply Irwin Army Community Hospital, as well as Kansas and Northern Oklahoma hospitals.

About 400 people donate blood at Fort Riley a year, he said, adding the numbers tend to go down when a unit deploys or comes back from deployment.

"Those Soldiers just coming back from overseas deployments aren't eligible to donate for 12 months," he said.

Blood is good for up to 42 days before it must be discarded, and each hospital is supplied with a specific amount of blood.

Type 0 blood is in the highest demand right now, Gilmore said.

Pvt. Brian Newland, Special Troops Battalion, 1st Sustainment Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, who also is a previous donor, said he donates blood to help his fellow Soldiers.

"You never know when it's going to be needed, and if everyone helped we wouldn't have people dying because of a lack of extra (donated) blood," he said.

Pvt. Michael Wright, also with the STB, 1st Sust. Bde., donated for the first time Aug. 18 and said he plans on donating again.

"The process was good and it was over quickly," he said.

Those who wish to donate blood can do so at the next blood drive Nov. 16 and 17 at Craig's Fitness Center, Fort Riley.

Page last updated Fri August 27th, 2010 at 15:41