An hour of your time can provide the gift of life

illustrated blood droplet with life preserver

Paula Dayton

Paula Dayton

I’ve worked at the University of Iowa DeGowin Blood Center since 1983 in different roles and have seen many changes over the past 28 years. But one thing never changes: the ongoing need for blood and blood products.

I love working at the UI DeGowin Blood Center—the oldest blood center west of the Mississippi—because as an employee in a hospital-based blood center, I get to see the full benefit of what we do each day. Blood and platelets we collect help patients right here at UI Hospitals and Clinics.

These patients are undergoing surgeries—maybe a liver transplant, or a procedure to repair broken bones and damaged organs suffered in a motor vehicle accident. A patient can be a young child who was just diagnosed with cancer, undergoing chemotherapy or awaiting a bone marrow or stem cell transplant.

Blood recipients’ family members have relayed stories of gratitude, talking about how their loved ones “pinked up” and had more energy after receiving a donation. As blood center employees, we’ve watched the progress of patients who are struggling for their lives on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) and we cheer when they get better. The efforts of DeGowin staff and the generosity of our wonderful donors can make such a huge, immediate difference in someone’s healing process…in someone’s life.

The amount of blood and blood products needed by UI Hospitals and Clinics is astounding. Some patients require 150 blood products—just one person! Lots of donors and numerous blood drives are needed to supply the approximately 30,000 blood products transfused each year at UI Hospitals and Clinics.

April is “Give Life Month”—a great time to start the habit of donating blood or platelets. Set a goal for yourself and stick with it. If it is to give once, twice, or four times a year, make it a commitment, a priority. A whole blood donation only takes about an hour and a platelet donation only a couple of hours. It’s as easy as finding the time for a haircut or dentist appointment. If we make it a priority, most people can find an hour or two in a year to help save someone’s life.

Since I started at the UI DeGowin Blood Center in 1983, I have donated 85 times. I am proud of that. I see every day there is a great need, and I know it is helping someone. I am really excited about getting to the 100-donation mark. I won’t stop there, but that is a goal that is within my reach.

The UI DeGowin Blood Center makes it very easy and convenient to donate. We have a fixed site right on the second floor of UI Hospitals and Clinics off Elevator B, and we are open five days a week into the evening hours. We also have a mobile unit that is out three to five times per week. You will see us all over campus and in Iowa City/Coralville and surrounding communities. You can even sign up online for our blood drives by going to

I take pride in the UI DeGowin Blood Center’s respected status in the blood bank community. I’m proud that the center is part of UI Hospitals and Clinics, with its reputation for excellent care. And I’m proud of the University of Iowa family, which supports our mission in so many ways.

Give blood donation a try—give life this month.