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Thursday, July 17, 2014

One pint at a time, Red Cross blood drive at Nashua High School South’s goal is 660 pints

Every one of the donors at Wednesday’s blood drive at Nashua High School South had a reason to give.

Kristie Archer, of Pelham, said her story began with her father, Robert Cousins. ...

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Every one of the donors at Wednesday’s blood drive at Nashua High School South had a reason to give.

Kristie Archer, of Pelham, said her story began with her father, Robert Cousins.

Reclining in a lounge chair set up with dozens of others in the school’s two gymnasiums Wednesday, she said her father has “given over the years 280 times. I’m just continuing the saga.”

The annual WZID Chill & Grill Super Blood Drive set up shop at the school and attracted a steady stream of willing donors despite the off and on rain.

“He had a quadruple bypass about seven years ago,” Archer continued. Additional heart complications limited his own health and ability to be a donor.

“Now he’s on medication. They had to put him on a blood thinner, and he called yesterday and they told him he’d no longer be able to give. So I can, and I’m here,” she said.

While she talked, others came in through the building’s gym entrance and were greeted by the representatives of the radio station and other event participants, including People’s United Bank, The Weathervane Restaurant and organ donor groups. Others recuperated with a snack or waited their turn to donate.

“Our average blood drive does a little bit less than 40 pints if all goes well. This blood drive’s goal is 660,” said Paul Bergeron, donor recruitment representative for the American Red Cross in northern New England. “The reason we do it in July is that generally the first two weeks of July are the hardest weeks out of the year to collect with everybody being out on vacation and school’s out.

“We go to high schools and colleges a lot during the school season. There’s no high school and college in the summer so we lose all those donors.”

Add vacation time, he said, and “July is brutal.”

Nashua’s event is one of the biggest blood drives in the region.

“In the northern New England region, we have to collect 700 units of blood every single day to supply the hospitals that we work with. Summer months are slow,” said Mary Brant, communications manager for the American Red Cross, northern New England Region. “This is one of the blood drives where we hope to make up for that shortage.”

And since the shelf life of red blood cells is about eight weeks, the Red Cross has to constantly collect blood.

The effort to put on the drive is hefty, requiring a rolling planning session.

“We start working the day after this ends,” Bergeron said. “We start the next day with the school, booking the days and working with the city in order to get the facility.”

Mike Dicristoforo, of Nashua, said he is part of the “multi-gallon club.”

“I’ve been giving since I was 21, and I’m 50 now,” he said. He donates because he can, and because it’s the right thing to do. “I think everybody that can, should. It’s that simple.”

Don Himsel can be reached at 594-6590 or dhimsel@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow Himsel on Twitter (@Telegraph_DonH).