Lisa D’Angelo will always fondly remember the first time she gave blood back in March of 1975.
And that’s a good thing because she would be hard-pressed to forget even if she wanted.
Lisa’s maiden donation, which occurred during a blood drive at Highland Park High School, happened to be prominently featured in a photo spread that appeared in the Highland Park News. Lisa was a junior at the time, and a new Illinois law had just lowered the age for blood donors to 17. The News sent a photographer to the drive as these were some of the youngest people to ever give blood in the state. The black and white photo shows a smiling Lisa gripping the hand of the technician as the needle is inserted into her arm to begin the blood donation process.
“There was really no rhyme or reason as to why I donated that day, but I’ve been hooked ever since,” Lisa said. “I think maybe there was some curiosity and also the cool factor of being some of the first 17 year olds in Illinois to give blood.”
Lisa has been a committed donor for the last 42 years; giving blood approximately every nine weeks except the three times she was pregnant and the brief period she was ineligible following a trip out of the country.
What makes Lisa’s dedication to donating all the more impressive is that the 59 year old has never needed a blood transfusion. Often a person becomes a regular donor as a way to pay it forward after receiving a blood transfusion or knowing a family member or friend who did. That, however, is not the case with Lisa.
“I have never needed one nor have I put blood aside in case I was going to have a procedure that required blood,” Lisa said. “It’s just a very easy thing to do to help someone in need.”
Lisa is a regular at the LifeSource community donor center in Evanston. She has become friends with many of the staff members and looks forward to rolling up her sleeve and giving the gift of life.
“They treat me so well there,” she said. “They are a wonderful staff and because I’ve been going there for so long I know all about their kids and family. It’s a great group of people.”
Lisa works and lives in Evanston so the donor center in the North Shore community is extremely convenient for her, she said. Lisa also praised LifeSource’s online system to schedule an appointment and complete the health history questionnaire. The latter is a requirement of the Food and Drug Administration, and LifeSource’s “DonorPass” allows donors to complete the questionnaire online before arriving at their donation location.
“It really makes things easy and saves a bunch of time,” Lisa said of “DonorPass.” “Now I just make my appointment online and walk right in and donate. The donation process is really expedited.”
Lisa is also a fan of LifeSource’s BL Rewards program, which enables donors to redeem points earned from donating for items including Visa gift cards and LifeSource T-shirts.
“I use [my gift cards] to pay for gas,” she said. “It’s a nice program and a nice way to say ‘thank you’ to the donors.”
Lisa said she hopes to continue donating for many more years to come. “I have no intentions of stopping,” she said. “I’ll keep doing it for as long I can.
“I encourage all people who are looking for a way to give back to donate blood. It’s so very simple but so important.”
PREPARE FOR YOUR DONATION • EAT WELL • STAY HYDRATED • BRING ID