KETTERING, Ohio – Kettering donor Doug Kohnen remembers giving blood for the first time because it was a good way to impress his father-in-law. He began a “Donor for Life” journey and never looked back, making his milestone 100th lifetime donation Friday, July 15 at the Dayton Community Blood Center. When his youngest son is old enough to donate, it may be Doug’s turn to do a little arm twisting.
“I do remember why I got started,” Doug said as he took time away from his business, ERAtech Environmental in Kettering, to make his milestone donation. “We were having our second child. This was 30-some years ago. They were taking some blood from my wife Susanna and I was a little peaked. I looked a little white, like I was afraid of fainting. My father-in-law made fun of me and called me a wimp! I had to prove I wasn’t, so I gave blood!”
Doug and Susanna went on to have six children and five grandchildren. His company has thrived. “We do lead testing and all types of environmental consulting,” he said. Over the years he has been inspired to keep donating because his blood type is O negative, “the universal donor,” and he is also CMV negative, a “baby donor.”
A “baby donor” is someone who has not been exposed to cytomegalovirus, or CMV. Most adults have been exposed to this common flu-like virus at some time in their lives. Hospitals prefer to use blood from CMV negative donors for pediatric units to ensure the safety of blood transfusions to newborns.
“Most of the time my blood goes to infants,” said Doug. “I certainly don’t want to miss that opportunity to help.”
Doug’s youngest son Kevin is a 15-year-old at Fairmont High School. Doug says when Kevin turns 16 he will gladly sign the 16-year-old parent consent and encourage him to donate. A timely nudge by is father-in-law started Doug’s “Donor for Life” journey, and he sees potential in the power of suggestion for his son. “I think it will mean a lot to him, especially later in life,” he said. “He’s a caring kid.”