Locals donate blood for hurricane victims

Staff photo by Katherine Glosser Blood donor Larry Crook reclines in a chair as the bag attached to his arm through a tube collects his blood, during a Tuesday blood drive in Nashua.

NASHUA – Volunteers sit in chairs preparing to donate their blood to the American Red Cross.

This was the scene Tuesday at Gateway Hills Health Club in Nashua. The Red Cross is a volunteer-based organization “that provides emergency assistance, disaster relief, and disaster preparedness education in the U.S.”

Those who had previously donated blood wore a red circular name tag declaring, “I Make A Difference,” while first-time donors received a green badge.

After they donated, donors could sit at a table featuring drinks and snacks to recuperate. The goal of the blood drive, according to Red Cross Team Supervisor Karen Johnson, is to collect blood from 40 different people. She said every two seconds, someone needs donated blood.

Red Cross Communications Manager Mary Brant said the organization needs to collect an average of 13,000 units of blood per day to supply 2,600 hospitals throughout the nation.

Brant said some of the donated blood will go to the disaster relief funds to Hurricanes Michael and Florence, while the other donations will go to local hospitals.

“More people should … it’s a simple, easy and relatively painless process and it makes a difference,” said blood donor Scott Harvell.

According to Brant, both hurricanes have caused the closing of 200 blood drives, in turn, causing “7,000 units of blood to go uncollected in the Southeast.” “The need for blood is constant,” Brant said. “There is no source of blood other than healthy donors.”

According to the Red Cross website, the process of donating blood from arrival to departure typically takes about an hour, while the blood donation itself takes about 10 minutes on average. Officials first have the donor sign in and allow a review of their eligibility and identification. Organizers then review the potential donor’s health history, including medication usage.

After the person is done donating, they receive a snack and something to drink before departing in about 15 minutes. Donors can track where their blood is going on the free Red Cross Blood Donor app.

Red Cross volunteer John Charbonneau said he has volunteered for the Red Cross for nine years. Charbonneau said most of the donors he has seen have been doing it for some time. Charbonneau said he enjoys volunteering.

“This is something I enjoy. I can easily sit in a chair for four hours and it doesn’t drive me crazy,” Charbonneau said.

Johnson said helping Red Cross is a positive experience.

“It very enjoyable,” she said. “People who we work with are dedicated hard workers that are here for the same mission: to get life-saving blood out into the community, and we wouldn’t be able to do that without our sponsors and our donors,” Johnson said.

For more information on how to get involved or donate, visit the Red Cross website: www.redcrossblood.org.