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Saturday, March 19, 2011

Blood Donors Offer a Pint on a Day of Green

Blood Donors Offer a 
Pint on a Day of Green
By Mike Lauterborn
(for Fairfield Citizen News)

Fairfield, CT – For many, St. Patrick’s Day signals a time to celebrate and raise a pint. For others, it was an opportunity to give a pint.

At midday on Thursday March 17, the Fairfield Police Department at 100 Reef Road hosted a Red Cross blood drive in the facility’s parking lot. The Red Cross provided a bus in which to conduct the process and several staff members to facilitate. Over 50 people pre-registered to donate and many more participated as walk-ins.

“We partner with the Red Cross because a constant blood supply is critical,” said Sgt. Ed Greene, who contacted the organization to arrange the visit. “Most people take it for granted that, in an emergency, blood is going to be there when they need it.”

Greene added, “Our work puts us in situations where we see the need for blood – whether it’s an assault victim or accident case – so bringing the Red Cross here gives officers the opportunity to walk out the back door of the station and give blood. Our civilian employees also donate. We get support from everyone. Of course, the general public is also contributing. We’ve scheduled over 50 appointments for today’s session.”

Christine Holschlag, R.N., who was coordinating the Red Cross personnel onsite, gave some background about how this visit came about  and the organization’s blood drives in general.

“The Fairfield Police wanted to sponsor today’s blood drive and contacted our recruiting department to schedule,” she said. “The Connecticut Red Cross does about 12 blood drives every day, Monday through Friday, throughout Connecticut. The department does another six drives on Saturday statewide and even a few on Sunday.”

Holschlag says there are quotas they aim to meet. “We look for roughly 600 pints per day from all collections,” she said. “We are not currently in an emergency situation, though the importance of having an ample and safe blood supply can’t be stressed enough.”

The nurse explained what a donor experiences when they board the bus and how donated blood is handled. “At the beginning of the process, we do a mini physical exam,” she said. “Then we ask an extensive amount of medical history questions to determine eligibility. From there, we draw the blood. Samples are also taken for testing purposes. The blood goes to our headquarters in Farmington where it is processed and tested. Some of the blood is stored there, the rest is provided to hospitals.”

Holschlag noted that blood has different shelf life terms depending on components like platelets, plasma and red cells.

Before donors were processed, they were required to register with phlebotomists Luz Gonzalez and Troy Smith, who manned a table in the police department’s lobby. Gonzalez explained that information is captured from driver’s licenses or donor cards and that donors are required to read a short manual about what to expect from the process.

Stepping from the bus after donating, Chris Pedersen from Trumbull said, “Every time I donate blood, my employer pays me for the day. It’s considered a ‘blood day’. I donate every 50 to 60 days approximately. I look at it this way: At some point in my life, I may be needing blood and so I want to pay it forward now. It’s the right thing to do.”

Fairfield Officer Kevin McPadden, who was just climbing aboard the bus to donate, said, “This is the fourth time I’m doing this. Every little bit that can help save a life is important. I try to do this more than once a year. Sometimes the scheduling doesn’t work out. It’s nice when the bus is here.”

With regard his donating on St. Patrick’s Day, McPadden said, “I hope it won’t inhibit my ability to celebrate the day. I haven’t had an issue in the past with passing out. This is my good deed for the day.”