LAWTON, OK (KSWO) - Oklahoma Blood Institute is touting its ‘Thank the Donor’ Program. It gives blood recipients the chance to “thank” the person who supplied the blood that saved their life.
The program was the idea of the Institute’s CEO, Dr. John Armitage. It launched this spring in Oklahoma. All the recipient has to do is take a picture of the bar code on their blood bag, then write an anonymous letter, which is sent to whoever provided it.
“Social media is so powerful and this is a dedicated social media channel," said Dr. Armitage. "It’s kind of a one-way where you can take your emotion and share it with the person that gave that unit and tell them what it meant and maybe send a picture.”
Out of the ‘Thank the Donor Program’ came ShareThanks, which is still in the early stages of development. That will be available to any charity who wants to say “thanks” to those who volunteer or fund their cause. If you know of a charity that could benefit from implementing ShareThanks, contact Daren Coats at 580-678-7922 or visit obi.org.
EFFECTS BEING FELT LOCALLY
The effects of the Thank the Donor Program are being felt right here in Lawton. Hal Diekman has donated blood products since 1986... and has found a second family at Lawton’s Oklahoma Blood Institute.
His reason for donating: “I could do it," Diekman said. "And I like the cookies.”
When Diekman learned about the Thank the Donor Program, his only critique was that he wished it would have started sooner. His note read: “Bless you for being a blood donor. You are a hero and a role model. Your blood was given to care for me today. Because of your kind spirit and selflessness I have a chance to heal and fight cancer.”
“It was a photograph of this young man, younger than me," said Diekman. "No name, and that’s fine. Perfectly anonymous was fine. But I was moved by what he had to say.”
The note was bittersweet for Diekman. After 30-plus years of wondering how his blood was helping someone, he finally knew. But soon after, he learned he was physically unable to give again.
“My heart is failing and I’m down to a substantially reduced heart function," he said.
Receiving the note in conjunction with the news of his health left Diekman with mixed emotions. For a man who has donated nearly 50 gallons of blood, he knew he’d never get another thank you. But its the family atmosphere at OBI that will keep him coming back to visit and volunteer.
“The people are wonderful," said Diekman. "This is like a family and I don’t wanna talk about it anymore because I’ll get all choked up.”
Diekman implores anybody who has never given blood to do it just once. Find out if you’re eligible, give if you can, and become part of something you can know helps your neighbor.
Diekman was honored Tuesday night as the Platelet Donor of the Year at the semi-annual blood thanks and giving banquet. If you’d like to donate any blood products, contact the Oklahoma Blood Institute at 580-350-6100.