News>Through Airmen's Eyes: Guard Airman stays committed to giving
Senior Master Sgt. Craig Sanborn prepares to donate platelets at the American Red Cross Center in Burlington, Vt., July 18, 2012. He donates platelets every three weeks. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Victoria Greenia)
Senior Master Sgt. Craig Sanborn squeezes a stress ball to get the blood flowing at the American Red Cross Center in Burlington, Vt., July 18, 2012. A single donation of blood platelets can give up to three therapeutic doses to patients. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Victoria Greenia)
by Senior Airman Victoria Greenia
158th Fighter Wing
7/21/2012 - SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. (AFNS) -- (This feature is part of the "Through Airmen's Eyes" series on AF.mil. These stories focus on a single Airman, highlighting their Air Force story.)
For more than 12 years, Senior Master Sgt. Craig Sanborn has routinely fought with Burlington, Vt., traffic to go to the American Red Cross.
Once there, both of Sanborn's arms get stuck with IVs and then he sits back for the next two hours as his blood is siphoned into a cell-separating machine. His platelets are collected and the remaining plasma is returned back into his system.
The dedication of this St. Albans, Vt., native comes from the many people in his life who have touched him. Sanborn's first encounter with the miracle of life-saving platelets was with a childhood friend who, some 40 years ago, got leukemia. The doctors gave her a prognosis of one year to live. After undergoing bone marrow transplants and platelet transfusions in those early years, she is, thankfully, still around today.
It was after he had joined the Vermont Air National Guard that he became close to a fellow Airman who inspired Sanborn to make a commitment to blood donations.
"Ray Little did platelet apheresis and said he had donated more than 55 gallons of blood and underwent two bone marrow transplants," said Sanborn, the vehicle maintenance superintendent at the 158th Fighter Wing. Impressed by Little's dedication, he decided to get on a schedule for frequent donation. For the past four years Sanborn has gone to the Red Cross every third Tuesday to give his platelets to those in need.
According to the American Red Cross' Platelet Donation Web page, a person can donate up to 24 times per year. A single donation, according to the page, can give up to three therapeutic doses to patients. The American Cancer Society's website states that platelet transfusions are necessary for some cancer victims because the disease can inhibit the body from producing or holding onto red blood cells, which carry oxygen throughout the body. People with this anemia may get dizzy often or have a hard time breathing, in addition to all the other complications that may come with having cancer.
Most times a donor will never know to whom his or her blood goes, but Sanborn had the unique experience of being able to help out a community member. It was a 12-year-old girl with cancer, Sanborn said.
"It takes commitment to go every three weeks for the platelet donation and be strapped in for a few hours each time," he said. "But knowing there was a little girl who matched my platelets and desperately needed them is motivation to keep me going back."
Sanborn said he's talked to people who have received platelet transfusions, although it's unlikely it was his, and they are always appreciative of those who take time to donate. He says it's a special part of his life to know he's making a difference in someone else's.
Cementing his dedication to the donations, Sanborn's father, who had struggled with cancer in the 80s, passed away from it just last year.
"People do the Relay for Life or the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure to show their support for cancer victims and survivors," Sanborn said. "Donating platelets is what I do. We all give in our own ways."
Even going as often has he does, Sanborn said he doesn't feel tired or unhealthy from giving. Every donation helps a person -- someone's mother, father, daughter, son, sister, brother or friend.