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Release of Likeness

What began as a dare for Bill Sands has become a three-decade long commitment to saving lives through blood donation and a special routine of donating platelets to help those battling leukemia and surviving open heart surgery.

Bill Sands, Donor

It all started with a dare. Challenged by his co-worker to donate blood, Bill Sands stepped up and has been giving ever since. “My friend at work laid it out,” Bill recalls. “He said, “If you give blood I will, too.” Bill responded with a resounding “Yes!” and although he has taken a sabbatical now and then over the past 30+ years, Bill loyally comes back to give back.

“I feel that this is something I can give and it’s something I always feel good about when I’m done,” he says. “I did take a year off when I was training for a bike ride in New Orleans. But I know how important it is and I do my part to help wherever and whenever I can.”

Having given whole blood for many years, Bill began to feel a bit tired after donating and considered the possibility of discontinuing his regular donations. “Sometimes I didn’t feel all that well a few days after my donation. So when I mentioned that this might be my last donation, the Memorial Blood Centers phlebotomist asked if I would try apheresis. I remember laughing and saying, “Apher….what?”

Willing to try anything—at least once—Bill began donating platelets through apheresis and has been making that special donation ever since. “The best thing I like about apheresis donation is that it gives me two full hours of my time,” Bill explains. “Every three weeks, I turn off my cell phone, put on headphones and watch a movie. I just do my own thing. The e-chairs are fabulous! The warm blankets I very much like. And I know my platelets are used for leukemia and cardiac patients.”

Bill has many reasons to give. “My father had open heart surgery before he passed away and my niece, who is also a nurse anesthetist, had a double mastectomy as she battled cancer,” he says. “Plus my sister is a lab technician who is always reminding me that we need more blood. It all hits close to home and just goes to reinforce why I want to keep on giving. I look at it as giving the gift of life.”

“It’s also so convenient. It’s on my schedule. Every three weeks, on Wednesday at 4:00, I give my donation and then head home. Once you get a routine, it’s so easy! And now I’ve gotten so comfortable with it. I walk in and they know me by name. I’m signed in already. The staff is fabulous. It’s actually fun to go there! The selection of movies has even gotten better in the last year. And besides, it’s something I can do to help people out. And I’ll continue to do it. Just because I’m going to hit my 25 gallon mark next week doesn’t mean I’m going to quit any time soon.”

Bill knows that while about 38% of us are eligible to give blood, only 7% actually do. “So it makes me think, even if just 1% more of us donated, imagine what that would do for the world—for all of those people who need our help to survive! We have blood drives at work and have a great turnout. But when my co-workers say, “I’ve got too much to do to give blood,” I remind them that if – or when – they need it, someone has given it for them. People need to be more aware.” And for that reason Bill advocates for blood donation and loyally returns to Memorial Blood Centers to give back to those who need it most.

Find out more about how you can help save the lives of infants, children, and adults through blood donation. Learn more at About Blood.