When Mike Burdge learned back in 1970 that he could earn a little extra time off during his tour of duty with the U.S. Army in Vietnam by making a blood donation- he did not flinch.
The young soldier scrambled at the chance to give blood and enjoy a little more time away from the war. It has taken years since then for Burdge, now a former Mayor and current City Council member with the City of Sand Springs to realize the immense value of his blood donations made back then, and those he has given for more than fifty years.
Five decades later Burdge recently reached a milestone by making his 202nd blood donation with the Oklahoma Blood Institute. Like the cavalry, Burdge’s steadfast commitment to donate blood platelets and plasma has come to the rescue for agencies like the Oklahoma Blood Institute, who are in dire need of the “gift of life” during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As a result of social distancing and concerns over large gatherings, blood drives have been suspended and only a small number of people can participate at one time at the Oklahoma Blood Institute’s facility in Tulsa while making a donation. The pandemic has put real pressure on the need for donations of blood to save lives in Oklahoma. Somewhere along the way Burdge shifted his war strategy on blood donations too.
These days he focuses his mission on donating the more precious platelets and plasma, which take much longer (2 and a half to 4 hours) to give than the more common unit of blood donation. He has come to understand that his donations are critical for people making their way (for example) through cancer treatments and much more, and that the call for blood will never go away.
“I realized the impact of saving lives through donating blood was much more powerful than many of my efforts to save lives during my time in Vietnam,” said Burdge, who plans to continue his war on blood supply.
For the Oklahoma Blood Institute, they are grateful that many Oklahomans have answered the call, and invite anyone who can help the cause to consider following in Burdge’s mission.
For more information about giving blood or if you have questions about how blood products are used daily to save lives visit www.obi.org or call them at 1-888-584-7557. For more information about the City of Sand Springs, please visit www.sandspringsok.org and follow the City’s social media on Face Book and Instagram for the latest updates.