Longtime platelets donor encourages everyone to give

January 7, 2019

John Halloran, like many people in South Texas, began donating blood when he was in high school (in his case, Churchill).

But he didn’t become passionate about being a donor until his nephew was diagnosed with leukemia in 1987. By 1992, he was a regular at South Texas Blood & Tissue Center donor rooms and mobile drives.

“Because of both the need in the community and the history with my nephew, I began donating platelets,” he said. “It’s a journey that has lasted to this day.”

In 2018, Halloran topped 61 gallons in blood donations. And he will be adding to his total in January during National Blood Donor Month, which recognizes the extraordinary efforts of blood donors across the nation and serves as a reminder for others to give.

“There are times of the year when regular donors are on vacation or out of town for various reasons, or are ill,” Halloran said. “These absences affect the blood supply. Currently, hundreds of units are needed per day for the dozens of hospitals in South Texas to be properly served.”

In fact, blood donations in the United States are near 30-year lows, according to the American Association of Blood Banks biennial report on collections and usage. The number of blood donations in the AABB report declined by almost 6 percent just from 2013 to 2015. And the South Texas Blood & Tissue Center has seen a 9 percent decline in just the last five years.

But the need continues because someone in South Texas needs a transfusion every five minutes. It’s that need that motivates Halloran.

“I have become an activist of sorts,” he said. “I was able to get my parish to host a blood drive, where I explained the acute shortage at the time. Over 100 units were donated that day, and they could have had more if we’d realized the response would be so incredible.”

He even has a standard response for one of the most-common excuses for not donating – a fear of needles.

“When I make the announcement at my parish, even today, I’ll suggest that those who fear needles should simply turn their heads and grit their teeth,” he said. “While that’s a great line for quite a few laughs, I know of many who got in line to make that first donation because of that.”

Of course, he overcame his fear of needles a long time ago.

“In a very real way, I know that I’m contributing to enable others to live,” he said. “And if somehow I can save one person’s life, or give one person one more day of life, then they’re better for it and so am I.”

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