Every time the American Red Cross blood drive is in town, you can bet Keith Janzen will have an appointment.
He has rarely missed a date in his 35 years of donations, allowing him to rack up more than 13 gallons of life-giving blood in his lifetime.
"If I could help someone else out by just giving an hour of time, why not?" he said. "It's nice to know that someone's going to be able to use it."
He already has his appointment set up for next week's drive, which will be from noon to 6 p.m. Monday and from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday at Trinity Lutheran Church.
Janzen's approach to blood donations is exactly what the American Red Cross needs.
Kansas is a particularly low area for donations at this time. That was true even before the area's recent snowstorms canceled 50 blood drives, causing a loss of an estimated 1,600 donations.
"We need people like Keith who have done it for years and years," Jan Hale, communications manager for the Red Cross Central Plains Blood Services Region, said. "We can't do it without them. I'm always inspired by those folks who care enough and who are dedicated enough to do something year after year. We are so grateful."
Hale said the Red Cross is also looking for new donors, like young, college students who can give regularly. Although 2013 donations are up, the past two years were record low numbers for donations.
"We're hoping the folks in McPherson can help us in the loss of some of those donations," Hale said.
The Red Cross always is in need of more.
It especially seeks individuals like Janzen, who has O-negative blood. This type only runs in the veins of 7 percent of people in the U.S. Their blood can be given to people of all blood types and is given to newborns and those in emergencies before the patient's blood type is known.
"By giving it, I know it's not going to go to waste," he said. "I know I can help someone out with every donation."
Janzen said he has never needed a blood transfusion, nor does he know anyone who has. But this doesn't lessen his drive to continue giving.
"I've never known anybody that got my blood, but I know there's someone out there that I can help by giving an hour of my time 3 or 6 times a year," he said. "You might save a life."
The McPherson resident typically gives during his lunch hour, and then sets up an appointment for the next time the drive will be in town.
"It doesn't matter if I ever know who got it, you just know you can help somebody by giving up a lunch hour," he said.
Page 2 of 2 - Up until recently, he has donated whole blood, which can be done every 56 days. This last time, however, he gave a double red cell donation, which can be done every 112 days. This process takes two units of blood and returns some components back to through the opposite arm. Janzen said he plans to continue to do so in the future.
He said donating blood is his way of helping others.
"I just believe in giving back," he said. "I've been blessed with good health, and it's just a way of giving back. I wish more people would do it."
With each additional donation, up to three lives could be saved, according to the Red Cross.
"Some day if I need it, I'll be glad someone gave it for me," Janzen said.
To donate, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit redcrossblood.org to make an appointment or for more information. All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driver's license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental consent in some states), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.
Contact Jenae Pauls at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter @PaulsSentinel