Local teacher reaches milestone giving the gift of life

SPOKANE, Wash. — In the United States, someone needs blood every two seconds. A Spokane man has been committed to filling this need for 34 years now.

Dave Jackson didn’t want to skydive or hang glide for his 30th birthday. He did, however, want to try something new and exciting when he turned 30.

“Tomorrow’s my 30th birthday, and I want to do something I’ve never ever done before in my life,” Jackson, a teacher at Lewis & Clark High School, said.

What he ended up choosing was blood donation after a relative convinced him. Now, 34 years later, he’s still donating blood in Spokane. Tomorrow, he’ll make his 200th blood donation at Vitalant which will amount to 25 gallons of blood. It’s quite an accomplishment in the donation world for Erin Baker, the Donor Recruitment Manager at Vitalant.

“It’s very rare to have a donor donate whole blood or red cells that frequently, so it’s really appreciated,” Baker said. “Dave has been one of those people that come in so frequently, and he also proves that you don’t have to come in when you’re younger.”

Dave started donating at 30 and now encourages his students at school to start way before he did, so they can reach and surpass milestones like his.

Anyone can start donating when they’re 16 with parental consent, and there aren’t many requirements to donate. At Variant, you complete a health check and screening before relaxing in the oversized recliners and chairs while your blood’s drawn.

“It’s relaxing. You’re siting back there in these super comfortable chairs that recline, and they’re super smooth and very comfy,” Jackson said.

“As long as you’re healthy and you feel well, come on in and donate,” Baker said.

While Covid has slowed down many aspects of life, the need for blood will never slow down because blood has a shelf life. Once drawn, it can only be used in 42 days. Baker says summer months are the hardest to get people signed up to donate. Because of people going out of town and taking more time for themselves, donors drop off, but the need still remains no matter the season.

“The most important thing to remember is blood is needed everyday. There’s still surgeries going on. There’s still cancer treatments. There’s still a need for blood,” Baker said.

After donating, you’re treated to a snack of your choice to rejuvenate after giving blooc. Vitalant has more information on how you can sign up to become a donor online. The organization’s encouraging you to make an appointment because they are practicing social distancing in the donation sites to keep people safe as they help those in need.