The sparkle in Vicki Plagesse’s dark eyes enveloped her in an aura of joy de vivre. Greeting donors at the entrance of the hall of Saint Clare’s Church in East Haven, Conn., Vicki set the atmosphere for the Red Cross Blood Drive on Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014.
While nurses from the Red Cross prepared for a busy five hour event in the back of the hall, Vicki talked about the connection between the demanding winter and blood donations. Incoming donors interrupted her flow of sentences for a couple of minutes. She ensured to welcome everyone with a smile that provoked a smile in return.
“Yesterday’s blood drive,” explained Adele Sicignano from the Ladies Guilt at Saint Clare, “was cancelled because of the weather.” Talking about the reasons for them to work hand-in-hand with the Red Cross, she said, “today we are hosting this blood drive because of the mass shortage of blood that is around.”
The ladies from Saint Clare have never organized a blood drive before. “It’s not necessary,” Adele Sicignano explained their reasons for offering sandwiches and backed goods, “but we thought it would be an added treat for those who came out today in this in climate weather again – rain, rain, rain.”
The donation process is simple and does not require much effort. As long as one is over 18 years of age, does not show any cold symptoms, did not receive any vaccinations recently, or, among a few other restrictions, has not been out of American or Canadian territory within the past 12 months, one can give blood every 56 days.
After the blood has been drawn, a procedure that takes approximately eight to 10 minutes, every donated sample goes through several testing and quality control steps to ensure that hospitals receive high quality blood supplies.
“I make a difference,” is the slogan presented on the donor sticker the Red Cross offers in two editions. The red version, indicating a repeated donor, was the one that decorated most people’s clothes at Saint Clare. That does not mean, however, that the green sticker, indicating a first-time donor, would mean less. On the contrary, winning people who are willing to give blood is the key to an improved blood supply level.
Nicholas Givens is one of those regular faces at blood drives. “It’s a great cause,” he said. “There’s always people who need blood, everybody from the world, especially here in the U.S. You know, everybody needs a helping hand sometime. So it’s the least I can do.”
“Every chance I can, I donate,” explains Givens. “The least I can do is donate blood, I mean there is not much I can do, so a little bit helps everybody.”
Helping people who are in need is a motif shared among veteran blood donors. “I think,” Barbara Natarajan said, “it’s a great help to needy. You never know when someone is gonna need blood. Fortunately, I never had to have it, but I’ve been given it for 25 years. When I first started working in New York City, they used to come to the blood drive in work and I give as regularly as I can, like at least four times a year.”
“I feel,” she said about her passion to give blood, “that I’m helping someone. You loose a half a pound,” she interrupted herself mid-sentence with a high-pitched lustily laughter before she continued, “of weight from giving. And I think it’s healthy that your body makes new blood cells. Some people say, oh we want all that blood we need. But I think it’s good to get new blood. Your body makes it, kind of replenishes it within I think they said six weeks.”
With an expected number of 50 donations at the event, the hopes of the Ladies Guilt that the blood drive at Saint Clare would become a success had become true. Donating blood makes a difference, and people need to work together to fight off difficulties like the wintry conditions on the streets of Connecticut. The ladies demonstrated the determination of the donor community to stand together and leap those hurdles. And more is yet to come. “Well, if they need us still,” Adele Sicignano said about plans to let additional blood drives follow, “we will.”