Stepping across the hall to donate blood when the opportunity arrives is normal for Ward I Marshal Randy Shelley, who has been a blood donor all of his adult life. The surprise came when the life he saved turned out to be his own.
A few years ago, while attempting to donate, the technician told Shelley his blood pressure was in the "stroke zone."
After sitting a while, Shelley's pressure dropped enough to make it safe for him to give blood. However, that one test kicked off a chain of events that set him on the right course and saved his life.
"It was a wake-up call for me," said Shelley, who had told his story to LifeShare Blood Center Rep. Mary Jo Henderson.
"I told her I feel like it saved my life," Shelley said. "Giving blood was a window of opportunity I took advantage of. I did what I was supposed to do, and I hope my story will save just one life."
Minden High teacher Alan Shaw can say without a doubt donated blood saved his son Colson's life.
That reality makes it easy for Shaw to encourage the public to donate to a LifeShare blood drive.
Colson once suffered with Diamond Blackfan Anemia, a blood disorder where the bone marrow does not produce red blood cells, according to his dad.
"Because he was not able to produce his own (red blood cells) we had to always fill him back up," Shaw said. "We always said he was like a car. A car runs out of gas you fill it up with gas. He ran out of blood we would fill him up with blood."
Colson received a bone marrow transplant from his brother Cade and is "completely healed" according to Shaw who said, "If we hadn't had people to donate blood to Colson, he wouldn't have been alive and of course the transplant he went through never would have been possible – so he wouldn't be here."
The next chance for anyone to donate will be during LifeShare's M*A*S*H BASH blood drive to be held July 11 and 12 at the Minden Civic Center.
Technicians will be available from 10 a.m.until 8 p.m. both days.
According to Henderson, available blood is at a critical low, especially this time of year. "There is always a big need," she said, "but this is summer time so we don't have high school students to donate and people are on vacation."
But, Henderson continued, she is always encouraged when having a drive in the Minden area.
"There is just nothing like the heart of people in Webster Parish and Minden," she said.
Donors can be as young as 16, but a parent must be present and all donors must present identification.