Donors flood blood drive center at PMH

September 13, 2001|By KELLY GRANT, Staff Writer

BRAWLEY — Daniel Ortiz Jr. has never met any of the victims in Tuesday's terrorist attacks, but he, like many others Wednesday, was doing what he could by donating blood.

Ortiz, 23, of El Centro, and his two friends came to Pioneers Memorial Hospital here to donate blood in part because of Tuesday's terrorist attacks but also because of the continual need for blood in this country.

"We already knew there is a really big shortage, especially now with the devastation in New York," Ortiz said.

While the Imperial Valley Blood Services drive was scheduled before the hijacked jets crashed into buildings in New York and Washington D.C., those incidents led many more people than expected to show up, resulting in long lines to donate.

"It's been a madhouse," said Joyce Sutton, a member of the PMH women's auxiliary helping with the drive.

Imperial Valley Blood Service Coordinator Trish Burich-McNeece estimated that in the first three and a half hours of Wednesday's drive over 50 donors had given blood. That's about one-third the total number of donors over a regular two-and-a-half-day drive.


While Burich-McNeece was thrilled to see so many people willing to donate, she pointed out that the national shortage exists year-round, not just at times of large-scale tragedy.

"We need new donors all the time," Burich-McNeece said, adding only 3 to 5 percent of the eligible population donates blood.

"There is no substitute at this point for human blood," Burich-McNeece said.

A one-time donation can save as many as three lives, Burich-McNeece said. From the one pint taken from a donor, the red blood cells, plasma and platelets are separated and can go to three people, she said.

A desire to help save lives is what brought 18-year-old Yvette Espinoza of Brawley to the hospital.

"I'm here because I'm concerned about the people who've lost their families and if blood is an issue, I'll help. I'll do whatever I can," Espinoza said.

Ortiz agreed. Despite facing waits of up to three hours, Ortiz like many others, was not deterred.

"That's fine with us. This is going to help someone," he said.

Interested donors have several options when and where to donate in the coming week.

The blood drive at Pioneer will continue from 1-7 tonight. and Friday from 8 a.m. to noon.

Blood donations will be taken next week as follows:

· at the Imperial County Administration Office at 940 Main St. in El Centro from 10 a.m. to noon and 1-4 p.m. Wednesday.

· at the Imperial County Sheriff's Office at 328 Applestill Road from 10 a.m. to noon Thursday.

· at the El Centro Border Patrol headquarters at 1111 N. Imperial Ave. in El Centro from 1-4 p.m. Thursday.

· at Government Agencies Federal Credit Union at 1068 Broadway in El Centro from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Friday.

Some of the basic requirements for giving blood are that the donor bring a picture ID, be at least 18 years old or 17 with written parental consent, weigh at least 110 pounds, be in general good health and have not given blood in 56 days.

Staff Writer Kelly Grant can be reached at 337-3441.

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