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How blood donations saved a Utah man’s life

Jan 12, 2023, 5:57 PM | Updated: Jan 13, 2023, 9:36 am

SALT LAKE CITYJanuary is National Blood Donor Month, and it serves as a reminder that only 3% of the U.S. population donates blood.

Blood donation saves lives, like that of 67-year-old Duke Speer in 2021.

In March of that year, Speer was in a car accident on his way home from work. He was flown in a medical helicopter to Intermountain Medical Center, where CPR was performed for 17 minutes and he lost 22 units of blood.

“In essence, dying on the operating room table,” Speer said. “I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for the sizable blood bank that was available.”

One blood donation can save two to three lives. It’s a ripple effect that Speer said he is thankful for.

“You never know the impact that you have. The life you save might be your own someday,” he said.

Dr. Sarah Ilstrup, clinical pathology medical director for Intermountain Healthcare, said while only 3% of eligible donors donate, in January, that number goes down even more.

“If all eligible people showed up to give, we would have to donate less often,” she said. “It’s worth it because the difference it makes in people’s lives is nothing short of extraordinary.”

That is true for Speer’s life — before the accident, he was an avid skier, and just over a year after the accident, he was able to get back on the slopes.

“I don’t have the strength to get myself off the ski lift, but I can operate a sit ski,” he said.

Now, nearly two years since the accident, he said he is thankful for the doctors and donors who saved his life.

“An experience like this changes the way you look at things. So many things you used to take for granted now become valuable,” Speer said.

For more information on where you can donate, click here.

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How blood donations saved a Utah man’s life