Mansfield resident Kayla Garrabrant, 24, is a big advocate for giving blood.
The Clear Fork graduate of 2013 practices what she preaches by giving blood every couple of months — a routine she’s maintained since high school.
In about eight years, she’s donated almost six gallons of blood. Her donations are enough to save over 140 lives (according to the American Red Cross, just one donation can potentially save up to three lives).
One of Garrabrant’s friends with dyskeratosis congenita was in regular need of blood transfusions, which drove her to want to become a donor.
“He constantly was having to get blood all the time, so I was like, ‘Well, I'll try to give blood and see how it goes,’” she said.
Her first blood donation experience wasn’t the greatest, she said, but she continued to give because she knew it was a worthwhile cause.
It wasn’t long before she hit the one-gallon mark, and then two, and so on.
She said it’s encouraging to hear about how her donations are helping people. She receives letters from the Red Cross informing her where her donations are sent.
“I like that they do that kind of stuff because it makes you feel like you made a difference,” she said.
She’s able to track her donation history via the Red Cross Blood Donor App, which also helps with finding local blood drives and donation centers, scheduling appointments, completing the RapidPass®, among other things.
She typically donates at the Richland Blood Donation Center in downtown Mansfield (these blood drives will soon move to the Richland Mall) or at The Ohio State University at Mansfield Campus, where she currently works in the Office of Admissions.
“I think it's an easy way to give back,” she said. “I always feel like I'm hearing that the Red Cross is short of certain blood types and there's always a need at hospitals.
“Even when my aunt gave birth to one of my cousins, she needed a lot of blood, so I think about the personal connections.”
Her advice to those considering to donate is to drink plenty of water — and not just the day of the appointment.
“I drink a ton of water the whole week before I'm going to give,” she said.
She also takes an iron supplement.
Another piece of advice she shared: “Don't give up after the one bad time.”
She said she’s had three experiences that weren’t all that great, one in particular had her questioning if she’d ever give again.
“Just keep giving,” she said.
Click here to find out where upcoming blood drives take place.