COLUMBUS, Ohio — John Montgomery is paying it forward. He has double the reasons to do so.
Back in 1995, his late wife was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She went into remission after a couple of surgeries. But the chemotherapy took a toll, and she needed blood transfusions periodically to treat her anemia.
“At the time, when you’re in that kind of a battle, you don’t really ask where the blood’s coming from or who’s donating it, you’re just glad that it shows up,” Montgomery said. “It was a lifesaver for her. It allowed her to have that long of remission, allowed her to finish her teaching career, allowed her to meet her first grandchild and basically live kind of a normal life for that period of time.”
His wife survived for 16 years post-diagnosis, dying in 2011. It was just a few years after that when Montgomery faced a health battle of his own. He needed a quadruple bypass.
“I didn’t care where it came from,” Montgomery said of the blood he received. “When the doctor said, hang a unit of this blood, I was just glad that it was there and had no clue about how it got there, where it came from, who brought it, who donated it, didn’t know.”
But after that life-changing experience, Montgomery knew he wanted to pay it forward.
“You get that second chance at life kind of moment, and you wonder, what can I do to pay back for all the wonderful care and so forth that I received,” he said.
And the answer came to him fairly quickly. Less than a year after open-heart surgery, Montgomery became a volunteer delivery driver for the American Red Cross.
“It became kind of a passion for me,” he said. “It’s not just a time-filler. When I deliver blood to hospitals, or when I pick it up from a donor site, I know personally how that’s going to be received and how important it is, and I’m more than happy to fill that role.”
But the Red Cross needs others to fill that role as well. The organization is short on drivers right now.
“The need for blood is constant,” he said. “It’s ongoing, every day, 24-7, and the gratitude that you feel when you do that, when you get involved, is just amazing. And I would encourage anyone who has an interest in helping to try and get involved with that.” Montgomery will be delivering blood from the 10TV and WNCI Blood Give-In this Wednesday.
It’s happening from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Columbus Airport Marriott at 1375 North Cassady Avenue.