Commentary: Don’t donate blood just when tragedy strikes

In celebration of World Blood Donor Day, the city of Austin has proclaimed June 14 to be “We Are Blood Type Local Day.” Today we celebrate our local blood supply, a precious community resource we all depend on — and have a stake in — regardless of whether we think about it on a regular basis.

If you or someone you know has ever needed blood, chances are you’ve at least pondered being a donor. But for many in our growing community, blood donation has become a somewhat antiquated cause. We Are Blood wants to change that.

Let us introduce ourselves. Our roots run deep, going back to 1951, when we were established as the Travis County Medical Society Blood Bank serving Austin. We grew to become the Blood and Tissue Center of Central Texas, serving a 10-county region, and in October 2016, we modernized the brand and changed our name to We Are Blood. The name has changed, but the mission never will.

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In fact, our name speaks to who we are. “We” isn’t just about our organization; it’s about all of us. “Blood” isn’t just about the substance; it’s about family and community. If you were ever to need blood in this community, even if you’d never donated, it would be there for you as a result of the generous donations of your neighbors — your Central Texas family.

Living in one of the fastest growing regions in the nation, it’s no surprise that our health care systems are growing too. They’re seeing more trauma and acutely ill patients, many of whom need blood. Beyond that, the complex, world-class health care services provided locally in our medical community have spurred economic growth, as well.

All this has created an increase in the local demand for blood components, the likes of which this community hasn’t seen in a long time. We must respond. But how do we do that?

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We must inspire a larger community of blood donors that can be counted on regularly — not just when tragedy strikes but every day of the week. Folks naturally think about donating when they hear about a large-scale event, but it’s the blood already on the shelf that saves lives when it happens. So don’t wait until after tragedy hits the news; set your calendar to donate blood regularly. Our role as stewards of the local blood supply is to ensure that it’s always well stocked and readily available. But we can’t do that without you.

Have you ever wanted to be part of something that can draw people together in this place we call home? You can. Have you ever wanted to be a hero? You can. It’s easy, and there will never be a better time than now. Take ownership of this precious resource that is our local blood supply: Become a regular blood donor.

Your community — your family — is counting on you.

Cothran is the CEO of Austin-based We Are Blood.

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