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Chula Vista man donates his 100th gallon of blood as supplies are critical

A Chula Vista man reached a lifesaving milestone. David Carroll donated his 100th gallon of blood. KPBS reporter Kitty Alvarado tells us his donation comes at a critical time.

On Tuesday, David Carroll went in for his regular visit at the San Diego Blood Bank in Chula Vista. He donates platelets every two weeks.

But this visit was not typical. On this day, Carroll donated his 100th gallon of blood. That means he’s done this over 500 times.

It takes about three hours for the whole process to be completed.

"I have no idea how they do it but they can stick that needle in you so it doesn’t hurt at all!" he said.

But 100 isn’t just a number or milestone. His donations save lives.

The way he sees it, one of those lives he’s saved has surely given back to him and others.

"Donors get to give and the recipients get to receive … and things I don’t know that they’ve done that have benefitted me and I guess we all benefit," Carroll said.

Gina Sorensen from Chula Vista donates regularly too.

"I’ve probably donated 20 to 30 times over my life. Not as many as David over there, something to strive for," Sorensen said.

Their donations come at a critical time. For the first time ever the American Red Cross declared a national blood crisis. The nation's blood supply is the lowest it's been in ten years.

Dr. Ghazala Sharieff, Scripps Health chief medical officer, said she’s worried if this continues, it will cost lives.

"We had two patients at the same time who needed massive transfusion protocols and literally we had to scramble trying to get blood from one place to the other … that is not sustainable," said Sharieff, adding they had to borrow blood from another hospital.

"So to have David come out and donate his triple platelets right now is very, very important and we’re very thankful for that," said Claudine Van Gonka with the San Diego Blood Bank.

Van Gonka said every community is struggling for donors because of COVID-19 and flu season.

"People are canceling blood drives, we see a low donor turnout now people are maybe, possibly afraid to come out and donate," she said.

Van Gonka said donating is safe and they follow COVID protocols. But if you’ve had COVID or have been exposed you must wait four weeks to donate blood. However, there's no waiting period if you had the COVID-19 vaccine.

"You’re unable to get COVID through blood transfusions, COVID is a respiratory virus," said Van Gonka.

As a thank you, Carroll received special recognition. He will also get to upgrade his 75-gallon sweatshirt and become the 37th member of the Guardians Circle.

But the best gift is priceless because every two seconds, somebody somewhere in the U.S. needs blood to survive — like 6-year-old Quincy, who just got through beating leukemia, and needed platelets and blood transfusions with every cancer treatment.

His mom, Theresa Bergdahl is grateful.

"There’s just not really anything else that I could do but give you a virtual humongous hug and thank you for caring for people that you don’t even know," she said.

"That’s the whole point, excuse me, of being able to give is that it helps somebody else live," said Carroll.

To donate blood, visit sandiegobloodbank.org