Every two seconds, someone, somewhere needs a blood transfusion. All told, nearly 21 million blood components — red blood cells, plasma and platelets — are transfused annually in the United States.
With those figures in mind, Matt has come to a simple conclusion.
“The odds are fairly high that one day either my kids or myself will need blood,” said the Oak Park resident and father of twins.
Matt already knows his wife, Bridgett, was one of those who needed a life-saving blood transfusion, and that is the reason he went from the occasional blood donor to a committed blood donor who gives several times each year.
After giving birth to Zachary and Maggie Rose 77 minutes apart in 2003, doctors learned Bridgett’s uterus was not clamping down, or more technically, she was suffering a postpartum hemorrhage. Bridgett said the condition was likely caused because the placenta was not fully removed, which can occur when birthing twins who share a placenta. She ended up needing two units of blood in her recovery.
Nearly a decade and a half later, Matt has never forgotten how two anonymous blood donors played a major role in saving his wife’s life. While he had donated blood prior to 2003, Matt said he “upped the frequency” after seeing how important it was to his wife and knowing there were others in need of blood transfusions.
“I had donated occasionally [before] but never consistently,” he said.
“Consistently” is the perfect word to describe Matt’s donation habits. He has donated a minimum of three times annually since 2014, including six times in 2016 and another five times as of November 2017. Whole blood can be donated every 56 days.
Matt’s donation location of choice is inside the First United Methodist Church in his hometown of Oak Park.
“It’s a simple way to help and just do some good,” Matt said of donating blood. “I know a lot of people don’t have the ability to give blood so it’s important for those that are able to step up and donate. I wish I could give more often but the requirements are obviously there for a reason.”
A former newspaper reporter who now runs a public relations firm called Inside Edge, Matt is rather savvy with social media and likes to use that platform to promote blood donation.
“Every time I give I’ll post a picture,” he said. “People seem to like it and it encourages others to get out there and give blood. I try not to guilt people [into donating], but this serves as a reminder.”
As his children are fast approaching the eligible age to give blood, Matt said he is “leading by example” and occasionally takes them along while donating.
“They know the story of what happened to their mother,” he said. “They know how important [blood donation] is.”
Matt had a simple suggestion for those contemplating rolling up their sleeve and making a blood donation.
“My suggestion is just to try it once,” he said. “Don’t make it out to be bigger than it is. It’s only one hour. Read a book or catch up on your email while you’re donating. It doesn’t have to interrupt your day.
“Think of the lives you can save and the good that is being done.”