Summer is high season for blood

Posted Wednesday, June 29, 2011 in News

Summer is high season for blood

by Christopher Bouchard

PRESQUE ISLE – Hundreds of people crammed into the University of Maine at Presque Isle's gymnasium to donate blood to the American Red Cross on Monday. Men and women in white coats paced around tables, beds and medical equipment as they called out names from clipboards. Several crates of blood were stacked in back of the hot gymnasium, and the steady stream of donors entering the building ensured that the stack would get higher by the end of the day.

“Things are going great so far,” said Robin Lindsay, a coordinator for the event. “We've been open less than two hours and 112 people have showed up so far, which means there is a good chance of us reaching our goal of 300 donors.”

The donated blood would be taken to a lab in Dedham, Mass., for testing and processing.

UMPI, its Phi Eta Sigma National Honor Society, Pizza Hut, Big Cheese, Country Farms Market, Freihofer's Bakery, L.L. Bean, Pat's Pizza and Walmart all had a hand in sponsoring this event.

“We had to do a lot of community outreach to put this together,” Lindsay said. “We had to coordinate with UMPI to be able to use this as our site, and we talked to a lot of businesses about donating food for the staff and donors.”

A set of crates containing the donated food sat against the front wall of the gym, right next to Paul Greenier's desk.

“I'm with the 'Be The Match' registry,” Greenier said. “We do recruitment for the marrow-donation program. Our oldest daughter had a bone-marrow transplant that saved her life, and I've been involved with the program ever since.”

The “Be The Match” registry consists of about 8 million people. According to the group's pamphlet, there is a chance that only one person in that massive group would be identified as a match for someone in need. Consequently, it's very likely that many members may not ever be called up to donate marrow. In the event that they are, the foundation will pay for all travel expenses and medical costs.

Ken Urquhart and Bill Thomas of the Disaster Relief Service were also in attendance.

“We're raising money for the Pine Tree Chapter Disaster Relief Fund with a raffle,” Thomas said. “And we have a number of prizes.”

Those prizes include two tickets to NASCAR Sprint Cup's Sylvania 300, two tickets to the Labor Day Spud 150, a Walmart gift card, various memorabilia autographed and/or endorsed by Greg Biffle, and a three-month membership to one of the local fitness centers.

“The (Pine Tree) Chapter is still hurting from Haiti,” added Urquhart, who stressed the importance of each individual donation.

The underlying theme of “one person making a difference” seemed to resonate within the gymnasium, as everyone did their small part in hopes of making a big impact.

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