Since he was in high school, Mayor Dan Drew has been donating blood to the American Red Cross. It's a routine process millions of Americans take part in annually — but it wasn't until less than a month ago that this simple, altruistic act really hit home for him and his young family.
On June 1, one of Drew's three children, son Jackson, 5, needed not one but two blood transfusions after contracting a virus that sent his red blood count plummeting to negligible levels. Young Jackson had a multitude of bruises on his body that couldn't be explained and the slightest pressure — even a scratch — caused black and blue marks to form, Drew says.
Thankfully, he says, Jackson is "totally fine today," after many tense hours the whole family spent at the Connecticut Children's Medical Center in Hartford.
Waiting for his number to be called Tuesday afternoon at the blood donor drive at Hall, Drew, who has type o-positive blood and has been giving for 17 years, was part of a large number of people who stopped by to give the "gift of life."
Blood supplies are at critical levels, the Red Cross says, with just half as much as last year at this time on hand for emergency transfusions.
All blood types are needed and the Connecticut region is seeking to collect 5,000 blood donations over the next two weeks.
Phyllis Dawe of Middletown and Jeannette Scianna of Portland cheerfully checked donors in at the entrance. Those with appointments (highly recommended) sailed through the four-step process and walk-ins had a longer wait.
O-positive blood is the most in demand as 45 percent of people in the United States are O positive or negative, according to the American Red Cross. Only 7 percent of people have O-negative blood. These are universal donors as their blood can be given to people of all blood types.
There will be another Red Cross blood drive July 2 from 1:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the , 79 South Main St. in Middletown. To donate, call (800) GIVE-LIFE.
Facts about donating blood
- The American Red Cross supplies approximately 40 percent of the nation's blood supply.
- The American Red Cross blood program started in 1940, under the leadership of Dr. Charles Drew.
- Only 3 percent of people in the U.S. have AB-positive blood type. AB-positive type blood donors are universal donors of plasma, which is often used in emergencies, for newborns and for patients requiring massive transfusions.
- Two most common reasons cited by people who don't give blood are: "Never thought about it" and "I don't like needles."
- If you began donating blood at age 17 and donated every 56 days until you reached 76, you would have donated 48 gallons of blood, potentially helping save more than 1,000 lives!