Being a blood donor is one of the most important things anyone can do. I learned by example since my father is a multi-gallon donor and passed the importance of giving blood onto me. I began donating blood while serving stateside in the military and continued that tradition when I returned home to Illinois.
In the fall of 2010, I was on top of the world just a few months after graduating from the University of Illinois’ Fire Service Institute when my life changed in the blink of an eye. In October of 2010, I was the passenger in a single vehicle rollover. I suffered multiple bone fractures and a traumatic brain injury. Since that accident, I have had no less than one surgery every year. I thought I knew about the value and importance of donating blood before my accident and as a first responder, but since then, I can honestly say I owe my life, several times over, to blood donors. I wouldn’t be here if there wasn’t a safe, adequate supply of blood available to me during critical events in my life.
I know I am fortunate to be alive. I am also fortunate to still be able to donate blood and pay it forward to some person who is in need. I am happy to say that I am preparing to donate what will be my 4th gallon of blood and I hope to motivate others to do the same.
Robert BatesVeteran, Volunteer Firefighter and Blood Donor