Vietnam War veteran hopes to inspire others to donate blood - KSLA News 12 Shreveport, Louisiana News Weather & Sports

Vietnam War veteran hopes to inspire others to donate blood

Gary Hughes reflects on donating blood (Source: Marie Waxel/KSLA News 12) Gary Hughes reflects on donating blood (Source: Marie Waxel/KSLA News 12)

As the spirit of the holiday season ramps up, one gift-giving effort has been declining.

"We do struggle in December and January finding people to come donate blood," said Tina Hooper, of LifeShare Blood Centers in Shreveport. 

On Giving Tuesday, KSLA News 12 told you how LifeShare Blood Centers is giving donors the opportunity to give something extra this holiday season. Donors can send special messages that will be attached to stuffed animals and given to children at local hospitals in late December.

Our KSLA cameras have since caught up with one donor who hopes his story will help to inspire others to give blood this holiday season. 

"I ejected and the aircraft continues on and it goes into a shopping center," Gary Hughes recalled.

"December 18th, 1967."

It's a day the Vietnam War veteran said he'll never forget.

"I wasn't guilty of anything, but I always feel very guilty about the people that died in that shopping center. So that's the reason I'm a blood donor."

Since retiring from the Air Force, Hughes has made it his mission to save as many lives as possible.

Over the years, he said, he's given close to 80 gallons and has no plans of slowing down.

In fact, he's a regular at LifeShare Blood Centers in Shreveport. 

"You're basically giving life. And what can you give that's more precious?" Hughes said. 

The grandfather of 8 was even more thrilled to attach a personal message to his donor bear. 

"It gives you a very very warm feeling. You get something from it. You get satisfaction."

You have until Dec. 10 to donate blood and get in on the extra incentive with LifeShare Blood Centers.

The bears will be delivered later this month to children in Shreveport area hospitals. 

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