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Donating Blood after Beating Cancer: Q&A with Bill Goldsworthy

Bill at the Red Cross donating plasma and platelets now that he is free of cancer.

Bill Goldsworthy was an avid plasma and platelet donor before he was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2017. Being a fireman, he was accustomed to helping people in big and small ways. He knew he had to get better, not only for the sake of his family, but so that he could continue to donate blood products to help others in need. Today, Bill is cancer free and is back in the donor chair saving lives. We had the privilege of speaking to Bill to learn more about his experience with cancer and why he donates blood to give back. Here is his story.

1. When did you get diagnosed with prostate cancer? What was going through your mind when that happened?

About a year and a half ago I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Obviously the first thing I wanted to do was get better, I also thought wow I’m not going to be able to give blood until I’m cancer free for a year. At the same time I was thinking I’ve been donating all this blood and
maybe I will need some.

2. You mentioned that you had been donating prior to your cancer diagnosis. What inspired you to give then?

My dad, a Korean War veteran, was always a blood donor and was very proud when he got his little pins saying how many gallons he gave. That just always impressed me. Growing up I knew a lot about the Red Cross. I was a past fire chief and was involved in my community, so in numerous ways we dealt with the Red Cross. When my dad passed away, I said well now I have to start making up for the loss of the blood that he was donating. So I started donating blood. At one point a representative at the blood center told me that I have AB blood, a rare blood type and the universal plasma type, and should consider donating plasma and platelets.

I believe it was around 2000 that I started doing platelets and plasma. And to this day, I still go faithfully every month and schedule my appointments. And that’s what got me started.

A picture of Bills dad.

3. How did you feel when you were given a clean bill of health?

When my doctor gave me a clean bill of health, I was excited.  I asked if I could get something in writing because I was going to call the next day to make an appointment to donate my plasma and platelets again. I mean I just couldn’t wait to do it.

4. What inspires you to donate blood with the Red Cross today?

I’ve always given back. I just feel that it’s part of being an American. You’ve got to give back to help people. That doesn’t necessarily mean helping just those who are less fortunate I just think this is just one of the easier ways to be able to give back is by donating your blood and your blood products because your body regenerates it. To me it’s a no-brainer. Everybody should be giving blood.

5. What led you to the Red Cross?

I knew my father had some experience with the Red Cross when he was in the Korean War. When I was fire chief and dealt with fires, we would call the Red Cross to assist the residents. That was probably my first real experience with them.

And in 2011 my home flooded during hurricane season and the Red Cross had emergency response vehicles parked in front of my house for a month and a half, feeding residents and my community in Pennsylvania. I had five feet of water on my first floor, so I was out of my house
for four months. I had to get it all gutted and rebuilt and the Red Cross was out there.

6. When is your next appointment?

Next week, I go every month.

7. What would you tell people to convince them to donate blood?

If they’re afraid of needles I usually tell them to think of someone they know who has cancer. That person may need blood and you could be the one that’s going to save their life. It’s not as hard to give as some people believe. Yeah you get a little prick in your arm and the first time you may feel a little different about it, but it gets easier every time you give. You never know when you need it and you never know when it’s going to be your blood that saves that person. It could be one of your relatives.

Bill standing and smiling with his wife, children and their spouses.

Please Give Now to Overcome a #BloodEmergency

The Red Cross continues to have an emergency need for blood and platelet donors of all blood types to give now and help save patient lives. Blood and platelet donations are currently being distributed to hospitals as fast as donations are coming in, and more donations are needed now, especially type O, to replenish the blood supply.

For more information or to make appointment to give, use the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit redcrossblood.org, or call 1?800?RED CROSS (1?800?733?2767).