116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — ImpactLife is celebrating a donor who has reached 100 whole blood donations — a milestone that puts him in the top 3 percent of all active blood donors.
The streak began in 1978 for Rich Patterson of Cedar Rapids, 72, when he gave blood to Mercy Medical Center and then Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center, now known as ImpactLife. It wasn’t his first donation, which he gave as a college student in the ’60s, but it was the first one that started a trend for Patterson.
As a whole blood donor, Patterson has been eligible to give every 56 days — up to six times per year.
Patterson, who also is a freelance columnist for The Gazette, didn’t start out as a dedicated donor, he said, when he started giving occasionally.
“Then it kind of became a habit. I learned that every time I give blood, it can help up to three people,” he said. “Conceivably, it saves people’s lives and that seemed kind of neat, so I got into the routine of giving as often as I could.”
Since 1978, the only interruption to his routine was treatment for cancer from 2006 to 2011, after which he donated as soon as possible.
“It didn’t feel right” not donating, Patterson said.
But as director of Indian Creek Nature Center for 36 years from 1978 to 2014, the small habit was an easy way to give back that he could fit into his busy schedule. Working for a nonprofit that relied on volunteers, Patterson knows the value of volunteerism in an era where it has been declining for decades.
“Blood donation is a form of volunteerism, and it doesn’t take too long,” he said. “In my life, I always volunteered at different places — volunteerism is critical.”
“All products and donation types are greatly needed, so we appreciate the dedication of frequent whole blood, platelet, plasma and double red cell donors,” said Kirby Winn, public relations manager for ImpactLife. “Having (100) donations over so many years certainly represents a high level of commitment to our mission for a long period of time.”
Through May 15, ImpactLife is partnering with the National Forest Foundation to plant thousands of trees. Through its Give Back and Go Green initiative, blood donors can help blood banks and nature like Patterson did for so many years.
Each blood donor participating in the program has the opportunity to have a tree planted in a U.S. National Forest, saving lives and supporting reforestation at the same time. All presenting donors will be given a voucher to redeem for a gift card up to $25 and one tree to be planted on their behalf.
Based on current estimates, ImpactLife predicts 20,000 trees will be planted through this promotion, advancing a campaign launched by the National Forest Foundation in 2018 to plant 50 million trees.
To learn more about how to donate blood or schedule an appointment, visit bloodcenter.org/donate or call (800) 747-5401.
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