William Mauer once gave blood on a regular basis.
Now, blood donors are keeping him alive.
Mauer has Myelodysplastic Syndrome, which results in a lower hemoglobin count.
Hemoglobin transports oxygen through the blood, and Mauer’s 86-year-old body doesn’t produce enough. That requires him to receive a blood transfusion at least every two weeks to bring up his hemoglobin count.
for me, this is kind of a forever situation. There’s no cure, so all I get is what they call a supportive treatment.
“As that goes down, if it’s not replaced, you become mortal very quickly,” Mauer said. “And for me, this is kind of a forever situation. There’s no cure, so all I get is what they call a supportive treatment. You can get shots that help a little bit but this is a lifeline.”
When Mauer was in basic training during the Korean War, he would get a three-day pass for giving blood. And those types of incentives continued when he took a job at the Department of Defense as a teacher and dean at the Air Force Institute of Technology.
According to the Brookhaven National Laboratory, 4.5 million Americans would die every year without blood transfusions. But Mauer never realized how many lives could be saved by blood donations.
I’ve outlived that obviously, and I intend to outlive it more.
“Most times it was a very painless situation and you would think of it as ‘oh boy, I’m gonna get a pass or something,’” he said. “It was a neat incentive to give blood. I don’t know what people have as incentives today.”
When Mauer originally was diagnosed with the disease in 2008, he was expected to live about six more years.
“I’ve outlived that obviously, and I intend to outlive it more,” he said. “But there would just be no way for that to happen if I wasn’t being provided this blood.
“That’s my lifeline and people out there who volunteer blood need to know.”
There are people out there that have kept me a live for a long time and I hope they continue to do so.
January is National Blood Donor Month, but donations actually decrease during the winter months and the holiday season.
The American Red Cross, which supplies blood at Tidelands Health where Mauer receives the transfusions, reported 37,000 fewer donations nationwide during November and December than was needed, with blood distributed faster than donations arrived.
I’m down to the point where I’m getting transfusions of two units of red blood cells every two weeks.
“I’m down to the point where I’m getting transfusions of two units of red blood cells every two weeks,” Mauer said. “If you think about that, roughly 25 times a year, there’s a need for two pints of red blood cells. And you wonder ‘Where does that come from?’ And pretty obviously it has to come from people who volunteer their blood and contribute.”
Tidelands Health spokesman Carl Lindquist said the hospital gave 4,769 units of blood to patients during fiscal year 2016, but poor weather and holidays negatively impact blood drives.
Mauer hopes that regular donors continue to give blood.
“Obviously it’s something I wish I didn’t have, but I’m so thankful that there are people out there that donate even though they don’t know what it does,” he said. “There are people out there that have kept me alive for a long time, and I hope they continue to do so.”
Christian Boschult, 843-626-0218, @TSN_Christian
Tidelands Waccamaw Community Hospital in Murrells Inlet is holding a blood drive Friday from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. People at least 17-years old and 110 pounds are eligible to donate.