A father’s gift

Kara_Barry_Thumb-63746_182x182Barry Garred had always donated blood. He was proud of being a Type O Negative donor, since O Negative can be given to anybody in an emergency situation. He recently surpassed four gallons worth of donations to Community Blood Center of the Ozarks, and estimated that he’s given an additional six gallons over the years.

A couple of years ago, during a blood drive at the Wal-Mart Home Office in Bentonville, Arkansas, Barry found out something astounding. The blood drive registrar remarked during check-in that he was a “baby quad” donor, able to give his blood for use by newborn infants.

The fact that Barry could give for babies was astounding because 32 years ago his wife Sandy had given birth to a daughter very early. Too early. Kara was born about three months before her due date. At just one pound and nine ounces, tiny Kara was given only a five percent chance of survival by doctors. After initially dropping to just one pound four ounces, she did survive, thanks to a skilled medical team and several blood transfusions during those first tense weeks.

Barry’s experiences with his daughter’s birth made his recent discovery that he could give for premature babies remarkable. “To me, there was a touch of irony,” Barry said. “I was encouraged because I had been giving for so long, not knowing why other than just to help. I knew my blood was needed because it was the type (O Negative) that could be given in any circumstance. I became really excited to give as a baby quad because of Kara’s history. It’s great to think that my blood can help with the same type of crisis my family was in. I’m thankful.”

Things have come full circle now, and Barry realizes that all those donations were a kind of payback for the kindness some complete strangers showed Kara and the Garred family over three decades ago.

Kara Laney is now a mother herself, and Type O Negative. She has taken up the donation habit. “Without blood donors, I wouldn’t be here. It’s as simple as that,” she said. “I wouldn’t have kids. My parents wouldn’t have a daughter. When you’re old enough to appreciate it, you look back on it and realize what an important thing blood donation is.”