James and Cole, Recipients

Erik and Heather Younger welcomed their twin boys into the world nearly three months prematurely. Cole weighed 1.6 pounds and James 2.25 pounds. Since their bodies weren’t fully developed, they had to undergo heart and eye surgeries. Each surgery resulted in the need for numerous blood transfusions. Erik stopped counting at 15. 

“Blood donation isn’t something I even thought about until I saw the need my children experienced,” Erik said. “They had so many challenges those first few months of life. It was good to know that blood was available so we didn’t have to worry about that too.”

Cole and James spent four months in the hospital. When they were finally able to go home, it took another four months before they were completely free of tubes and wires. Today, they are big brothers to sister Genevieve. 

Heather has been donating blood since before the boys were born, but this experience motivated Erik to donate at least four times a year with Nebraska Community Blood Bank.

“It was shocking to learn how short the blood supply often is,” Erik said. “Once I saw the need, I became a blood donor. Coming from me, a parent whose child needed it to survive, thank you for helping save my boys.”

Erik tries to get new people into the donation beds, too.

“To those who do donate, if you have a friend or relative who has never donated before, ask them to donate and keep asking.”