Vinton Smith has now donated blood in 45 states, and while he indeed plans to donate in the five states remaining (Idaho, Nevada, Montana, Alaska and Hawaii), he has begun yet another quest: To donate platelets in all 50 states.
“I’m inspired by recalling my dad’s work ethic and his dedication to donate, and by my mom’s compassion to help others,” said the Gettysburg, Pennsylvania man as he donated platelets at the American Red Cross Warzel Donor Center in Cleveland on Jan. 31.
He is also inspired by Al Whitney of Avon Lake, Ohio. Al has donated platelets in all 50 states twice. Vinton made a point of meeting Al after they connected through a donor website.
“It’s remarkable, how dedicated he is,” Vinton said of Al.
His donation comes at a critical time for patients in hospitals who are counting on blood and blood products like platelets for their treatment. The Red Cross is in the midst of a national blood emergency – it’s worst shortage in more than a decade, posing a concerning risk to patient care. The Red Cross has had less than a one-day supply of critical blood products in recent weeks – well below the ideal five-day supply.
Platelets are cell fragments in our blood that form clots and stop or prevent bleeding. They can be essential to helping patients survive surgeries such as organ transplants, and to fight cancer, chronic diseases and traumatic injuries.
“Donating blood or platelets is doing something good to help someone else,” Vinton said.
He appears to be an inspiration to his children, both students at Penn State, as his father was an inspiration to him. Even at their young age, they have both donated blood many times.
Ohio is now the fifth state where Vinton has donated platelets.
When told his story would be shared by the Red Cross, he said, “I’m hopeful that it will inspire others, even just one more person, to take the time to donate life through blood or platelets.”