Pay It Forward: Woman donates blood every month for last 40 year - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Pay It Forward: Woman donates blood every month for last 40 years

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BETHESDA, Md. -

Our Pay It Forward campaign is designed to not only spotlight those who are doing great things, but to hopefully inspire us all to think about how we too can keep the wheel of kindness turning.

This story is the perfect example of both.

The two most common reasons why people say they don't give blood are "Never thought about it" and "I don't like needles.” It is something I can totally relate to because I’ve said both.

But on this day, I'm facing my fear and the facts.

Someone needs blood every two seconds. 38 percent of the population is eligible to donate, but only five percent actually do.

And then there's a percentage we'll simply call Lu. She was my blood donor buddy.

“I am going to hold your hand,” she told me.

But if ever there was someone to ease my anxiety and lead me through the process, 80-year-old Sara "Lu" Colabucci was it.

Lu drives to the National Institutes of Health to not only give blood, but to specifically donate platelets -- the type of blood cells that help your blood clot and are always in particular need. She found out about this through a bumper sticker, much like the one she has on her own car today.

Lu made her first platelet donation in 1974 and has been doing so every month since.

“I don't understand why everybody thinks so much of it,” she said. “I more or less think it's our duty to look after one another.”

Even though she moved from Rockville to Ocean City in 1998, Lu continued to come to NIH to give blood.

“Yes, but you forget, this is my family!” she told me.

Heading 150 miles one way every month for 16 years, which is the same as driving from D.C. to Los Angeles 11 times, is quite impressive.

The life-saving numbers from her 40 years of giving are even more so.

“You can split her donation into two and sometimes even three, so anywhere from two to three patients could be helped by her one donation,” said Dr. Cathy Cantilena.

To date, Lu has donated 310 units of platelets helping sustain the life of around 600 patients.

She recalled one story: “I had one lady come up and she's says ‘Do you donate blood?’ She says thank you because you kept my husband alive. You know how that makes a person feel? You could just walk on air.”

As for me, I felt as if the air was getting a little thin as it was time for the stick.

I would be lying if I said I didn't feel it. But 41,000 blood donations are needed every day. And on this day, knowing literally in a matter of 10 minutes I helped save a life, there was no pain. Just the satisfaction of paying it forward -- like the angel sitting next to me does so frequently.

“It makes me feel good to help other people,” said Lu. “In fact, there are times I often think God put me on this Earth to help other people.”

It is a sentiment with which I wholeheartedly agree.

If you know of someone who is paying it forward, you can nominate them on our website. Easterns Automotive and FOX 5 are working together to highlight these inspirational people and stories.

Click on this link and help us Pay It Forward!

If you would like to Pay it Forward yourself and donate – click here to find out how: http://clinicalcenter.nih.gov/blooddonor/index.html

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