In 1965, when the U.S. Air Force offered Jamie "Marty" Martinez, then a 20-year-old airman, time off from his job in exchange for making a blood donation to the American Red Cross, Martinez seized the opportunity.
What he expected to be a one-time donation, however, turned into a routine of donating blood and volunteering over the span of 40 years at the Red Cross Palmetto Chapter in South Carolina. Martinez recently donated his 184th pint of blood, an amount that could fill eight 3-gallon jugs.
“Marty’s leadership of servicing others is infectious and you just feel good being around him. His donations are only surpassed by his energy and his love for life. We are blessed to have him as one of our own and countless of others have been blessed with his donations,” Debbie Szpanka, executive director of the Palmetto Chapter, said.
“It’s a good feeling, donating blood,” says Martinez. “You never know when you might need blood, and when you need it, you don't care where it comes from. If you are in an accident and end up on that table for surgery, you just want it to be there."
Donating blood has also turned into a family affair at the Martinez household. Marty’s wife, Debra, is working toward donating her eighth gallon of blood.
A Month to Give
While technological and medical advances have provided many new life-saving discoveries, there is still no substitute for blood. More than 38,000 blood donations are needed in hospitals every day around the country for emergencies, for patients with cancer, and other illnesses, and for those who need it on a continual basis for regular blood transfusions.
The Red Cross, in observance of Volunteer Blood Donor Month, is encouraging people to donate blood—one pint of donated blood can help save as many as three lives. Volunteer Blood Donor Month comes during a time when donations fall because of holiday travel, winter colds, or inclement weather that can prevent potential donors from making a donation.
Since his first time donating blood for the American Red Cross, Martinez has become an advocate for donating blood. He encourages family members, employees and friends to give blood.
“Think of it this way, one day, if it’s not you, it could be a family member or loved one who will need blood,” he says.
Donating blood is a safe and easy process that takes about an hour to complete. Medical equipment is sterile and used once only before it is discarded. If you are not comfortable or cannot donate blood, you can still help make a difference by sponsoring or volunteering at a blood drive.
For more information about donating blood and specific eligibility requirements and questions, visit GiveLife.org or call 1-800-GIVELIFE. You can also contact your local Red Cross Blood Region to find out about volunteering or sponsoring a blood drive near you.
The American Red Cross provides nearly half of the nation's blood supply (collecting more than 6 million units a year from volunteer donors) to patients in 3,000 hospitals across the country through its national network. Every two seconds, someone in America needs blood. The Red Cross must collect blood donations each and every day to meet the needs of accident victims, cancer patients and children with blood disorders, and the organization works to accomplish this through its 36 Blood Services regions. Please call today to make your appointment to give the gift of life. Call 1-800-GIVE-LIFE to schedule your donation or to sponsor a blood drive.