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An Army veteran who participated in the Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System blood drive had more than just good intentions while donating blood, he had a story. 

Army Veteran Anthony Smith was the first in line at the Bloodmobile on January 17th, and the reason behind that is very personal – blood donations once saved his life. 

According to Vantage Point, Smith served in the US Army from 1975 to 1982. When he returned home, he became a police officer, and then eventually transitioned into a position with the Eastern Oklahoma VA Health Care System in Muskogee. After a while, Smith began experiencing frequent headaches. 

“The headaches lasted for months, until one day the room started spinning. The next thing I remember, I was waking up in the hospital after being in a coma,” he said, going on to explain that the doctors at the Muskogee VA had discovered a blood clot in his neck and that he would need a blood transfusion to avoid any future clotting. 

“It was like my blood had stopped doing the job it was supposed to do. They had to take out some of my blood and put in healthy blood.”

It took a year of recovery and physical therapy, but Smith got healthy again and now works at the Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System in his hometown of New Orleans as an administrative officer, crediting the blood transfusion for saving his life and allowing him to lead the life he lives now. 

“It’s humbling because the people who donated didn’t know me. But they had enough compassion to realize that someone out there would need help, and they stepped up to do it,” he said. 

Although Smith had to wait a while before giving blood after his stroke and transfusion, he was given the go-ahead by doctors in 2010 and has donated blood three times a year since then, possibly saving dozens of lives. In addition to his blood donations, Smith has become somewhat of an advocate for blood donation. He raises awareness by bringing it up frequently to his family, friends, and anyone who wants to know, and even organizes blood drives at his church. 

“I tell people all the time, if you’re hesitating, think about how many people are out there waiting for a donor,” he said. “Or think of it this way. I can almost guarantee you that someone in your family needed blood at some point in their life. Look at me; if my donor hadn’t stepped up, I wouldn’t be here. You can do the same thing for someone.”

To learn more about giving blood, go to www.redcross.org/give-blood.

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