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Life lessons from a blood-donor father

For Moda Health’s Director of Training and People, Mark Timmerman, family trips to the local blood donation center when he was growing were as normal as going to the grocery store. That’s because his father, who had a rare AB Positive blood type (AB Plasma can be used for patients with any blood type), was a regular donor.

“From the time I was a kid, giving blood was just something we did,” said Timmerman. “For us, it was a normal thing to do, like drinking water.”

Timmerman remembers going with his father to give blood at the local donation center. They’d go in, he’d stay in a waiting area for about 20 minutes while his dad gave blood, and they were on their way. It was a simple process that was important to his father.

“He let us know that it was something important to do,” said Timmerman. “We were taught to help out when we can, because one day we might need it.”

Since he was old enough to donate, Timmerman has been a blood donor. He understands the ongoing need for people to donate and the impact it can make in the lives of others.

“I started donated in high school because it was what we did in our house,” he said. “It’s important to me. So, when I can, I do.”

Though he was taught at an early age why it’s important to give blood, he understands that being a blood donor is a personal choice.

“It depends on the individual,” he said. “I’ve talked to people over the years, and there’s usually some personal connection for those who give blood. Maybe they’ve lost a loved one, they’ve been in the hospital, or there has been a time when they’ve needed to receive blood. For me, had I not experienced what I did with my father and watched the example he set, I’m not sure how I’d feel about it.”

Today, the American Red Cross says someone needs blood every two seconds, and each donation can save up to three lives. If anyone needs encouragement to donate, Timmerman said all you need to do is turn on the news. Frequent stories about a local accident, fire emergency or national disaster show just how much blood is needed.

“For just a few minutes of your time, you’re literally helping multiple people,” he said. “When you donate, there’s a gratification that you’re doing something bigger than yourself.”

As part of Moda Health’s ongoing commitment to building healthier communities, Timmerman said Moda truly walks the talk. Along with educating people about the benefits of donating blood, the health insurer holds quarterly blood drives for its employees and the public.

“One of the things I love about working at Moda is our commitment to the community,” he said. “Our Healthcare Services department does a fantastic job of walking the talk. It’s one thing to go out and tell people about the benefits of donating blood and to support the community, but for us to show what we do by having local blood drives, we’re leading the way.”

While giving blood is second nature to Timmerman, he understands people’s fears about donating. However, because of the lessons he learned from his father, he says the affects far out-weigh the fears people may have about donating blood.

“There’s value in being an example for your children,” he said. “If we can start good habits early and continue them throughout our lives, we’re not only helping ourselves, but we’re helping those around us, too. It’s like any change we want to make in our life‐whether we want to eat healthy or exercise more‐sometimes it’s just taking that first step. I’ve always had a really positive experience giving blood.”

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