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How blood donations saved a Utah man's life


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SALT LAKE CITY — January 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. As a blood donor, 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 eligible people all 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, it's 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 in 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 your sense of gratitude. the way you look at things. So many little things that you kind of take for granted all of the sudden become very, very precious and valuable," Speer said.

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

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Ayanna Likens
Ayanna Likens is an Emmy award-winning special projects reporter for KSL-TV.

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