For the Cowles Family, Valentine’s Day means much more than the traditional time to exchange flowers and candy with loved ones.
Eleven years ago on Valentine’s Day, Bob Cowles suffered a ruptured thoracic aneurysm, a health crisis that had him fighting for his life in minutes.
Within the hour, Cowles was admitted to Sarasota Memorial Hospital and underwent 12 hours of emergency surgery, requiring 69 units of blood and platelets.
Cowles credits his survival to the first responders who appeared on the scene within minutes, the emergency department at Doctors Hospital, the gifted surgeons at Sarasota Memorial Hospital, nurses, technicians and the local donors who provided him with the gift of blood and platelets.
Every year, Bob and his wife, Jackie, commemorate this very special day by delivering cakes to surgeons, first responders and SunCoast Blood Bank.
SunCoast provides 100 percent of the blood products used at Doctors Hospital and SMH as well as eight other hospitals in four counties.
Feb. 14, 2019, also marks the 70th anniversary of SunCoast Blood Bank, one of the oldest existing nonprofits in the community.
O.K. Fike and Dr. Millard White founded the Lower West Coast Blood Bank, now known as SunCoast Blood Bank, in 1949.
They planted the seeds of a humanitarian idea that would blossom over seven decades. Although the name has changed, the guiding principles of remaining an independent, local health care provider, governed by a local board and local management have remained intact.
For 70 years, tens of thousands of dedicated volunteers have provided the critical, lifesaving gift of blood to local hospitals and patients. In 1949, the blood bank collected 551 pints of blood, now called “units.”
Today, SCBB operates four donor centers, and more than 1,300 blood drives are held annually. The success of the organization rests completely on the generosity of volunteer donors.
The official recognition of the blood bank’s anniversary will take place at a breakfast on Feb. 21, where high-gallon donors, volunteers and other community supporters will be recognized. SunCoast will also be honored with proclamations from the Sarasota City Council and Sarasota County Commission at the event.
For more information and donor locations, visit scbb.org or call 1-866-97-BLOOD.
— Submitted by Jayne Giroux