Health Team

Longtime blood donor helps save lives everyday

Posted November 9, 2017 6:37 p.m. EST

— When hurricanes or other disasters strike, we often hear about the great need for blood donations. But, the fact is, blood donors save lives every day.

Walter Cole, 73, has been donating blood at the Rex Blood Donor Services Center since 1969, when his uncle first brought him along.

Cole's uncle had a rare blood type. Cole's was more common - A-positive.

"I made a false connection, you know, I figured my blood wasn't all that important," he said.

So, for a while, he was not a regular, until he learned the truth about blood types.

"Rare blood is needed on rare occasions, and common blood is needed every day," Cole said.

Now, he's giving blood platelets.  A short bout with rectal cancer, and another problem with a blood clot in one leg, interrupted his giving.

Cole said he started coming back as soon as he could.

"It's vital. We couldn't do our job without people like Mr. Cole," said Emilie Sanders, UNC Rex Healthcare's donor recruitment coordinator.  "There are patients across the street from us right now that are receiving platelets and other blood products while we go on with our everyday lives."

Cole said his Christian faith moves him to give.

"I can donate a pint of blood easier than I can put a $100 bill in the Salvation Army pot," he said. "Most people can go by the Golden Rule, do unto others as you would have them do unto you. If nobody gave, we'd be in bad shape."

Blood donation centers report that they typically see a decline in blood donations during this holiday season, when the demand for blood remains the same.