Story and photos by Ekland Durousseau, American Red Cross contributor


We don’t have blood drives very often in the Texas Gulf Coast Region, but when we do we have some of the most interesting clients.

With one foot encased in a walking boot, Chris Calhoun walks slowly but surely to a blood donation chair and waits patiently as the technician takes his blood pressure and swabs his arm. Despite recovering from surgery to repair a partially torn Achilles tendon, Chris kept his appointment to give blood for a very special reason.

Chris is what is known as a specialty donor. He has type O blood, which is the most commonly used blood type for transfusions, but his blood is extra special, it is missing something that is present in up to 85 percent of adults by age 40; CMV (Cytomegalovirus). CMV is a flu-like virus that most adults are exposed to at some point in their lives. As with any other virus, once someone has contracted CMV, their body retains the antibodies.

Chris is CMV negative. This means his blood can be transfused to babies, children and other immune deficient patients without fear of exposing them to the potentially deadly virus.

“When I found out I was a universal donor as well as being able to help some of the most vulnerable patients, I thought that was really cool.”

So far, Chris has donated over 30 times with plans to donate as often as possible.

“I know some people don’t like to donate because of needles, but you can save a life and it feels good.”

Are you inspired to roll up a sleeve and donate?  There’s a blood drive scheduled November 20th in the Houston chapter office from 10 a.m. to 4p.m.  Call 1-800-RED-CROSS or visit and enter: FowlersHowlers to schedule and appointment.