WINTERSVILLE — Many area residents rallied to make up for a blood shortage on Wednesday as they entered the St. Florian Event Center for the American Red Cross Media Day blood drive in the Upper Ohio Valley.
Phyllis Riccadonna, regional account manager for the organization, said 52 units of blood had been collected, exceeding her target of 44 units.
“We did really well. I’m really happy about that.” she says.
Among the donors was Cathy Gill from Richmond, who said: “I’m a regular. I try to do this as often as possible. I know there is a desperate need right now.
Another donor – Ronnie Stillwagon, a former American Red Cross worker – noted that summer is often a time when those who give blood regularly are busy with other things.
“In the summer, people have a lot of different events and things,” he said, adding that unfortunately the need is often greater than due to a higher incidence of accidents.
Riccadonna said she was delighted to see a number of people offering Power Red donations, whereby a machine is used to collect red blood cells while returning plasma and platelets to the donor.
With this procedure, people with type O, A-negative, or B-negative blood can donate two units of blood at a time.
These donations are very useful for patients requiring frequent blood transfusions, including those with sickle cell disease.
The disease causes red blood cells to harden and form a sickle-like C-shape that impairs their ability to travel throughout the body.
There is no cure for the disease – which can cause severe pain, breathing problems, organ failure and stroke – but blood transfusions are used to treat it.
And people with sickle cell disease can receive up to 100 units of blood per year.
Stillwagon said he thinks many don’t donate blood because they don’t realize how easy it is.
“If everyone who was eligible gave only once, there would probably never be a shortage of blood,” he said.
Riccadonna said those who missed Wednesday’s blood drive could come to another to be held from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on June 23 at the Weirton Holiday Inn.
Everyone who donates blood at American Red Cross blood drives throughout June will be entered into a raffle for a trip to Graceland to celebrate the release of Baz Luhrmann’s new movie, “Elvis”.
Riccadonna added that Crossroads Christian Church in Wintersville also holds regular blood drives from noon to 5:30 p.m. on the first Monday of every month, although the July one has been canceled because it would fall on Independence Day.
Appointments for these and future blood drives can be made by calling (800) 733-2767 or visiting RedCrossBlood.org/give.