When Josh Bitter was 33 years old, he was diagnosed with testicular cancer.
Eventually, it spread to his lungs.
To save his life, he needed an aggressive form of chemotherapy, and to help his body heal from the treatment, he required blood transfusions.
More than a decade after his ominous diagnosis, Josh is cancer-free.
He’s said he’s “happy to be here.”
But he might not be here at all if it weren’t for the people who donated the blood he needed.
If you’re looking for a last-minute gift idea — one that costs you nothing but an hour or two of your time and which you don’t even have to gift-wrap — consider giving blood this holiday season.
Each year since 2008, Josh and his family have been giving back to those who helped give him his life back by hosting blood donations around Christmastime — a time when blood donations traditionally fall off nationwide because of people’s holiday schedules and severe winter weather in parts of the country.
Without an adequate supply, hospitals are sometimes forced to delay surgeries or to prioritize blood allocations to only the most urgent cases.
If the supplies had been inadequate when Josh needed his transfusions, who knows whether he’d be around today.
And who knows how many other people in our community and around the state and country would be deprived of a chance at life.
The person in need might be a stranger — a child with a blood condition or a cancer patient. It might be a friend or a family member who suddenly needs blood because of a medical emergency or auto accident.
There are plenty of opportunities now and in the near future to give blood, including at two blood drives later this week, one in Clifton Park and another in Glens Falls, being hosted in Josh’s honor.
Each of those will be held from noon to 6 p.m. Friday, one at the Clifton Park Elks lodge in Clifton Park and the other at the Queensbury Hotel in Glens Falls.
Others opportunities to give in the Schenectady area include drives today at the Hampton Inn in Schenectady from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Ellis Hospital in Schenectady from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., the Bellevue Womans Center in Niskayuna from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and the Vischer Ferry Fire Station in Rexford from 8 a.m. to noon; and on Friday at the Lowes in Glenville from 1 to 5 p.m. and the Josh Bitter drives in Clifton Park and Glens Falls.
To find other drives throughout the region, download the American Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit RedCrossBlood.org online, or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).
Walk-ins are usually welcome.
Donors must be at least 17 years old, 110 pounds and in good health.
All blood types are urgently needed, especially Type O.
Blood is a gift that you can give during the holidays and all year long.
And it’s a gift that lasts a lifetime for those in need.