By Timithie NORMAN
Three area organizations hosted blood drives this week, collecting more than 150 pints of blood for patients in need at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and the American Red Cross. The events coincided with January’s designation as National Blood Donor Awareness Month.
St. Francis High School hosted a drive benefitting Children’s Hospital L.A. as part of a years-long partnership between the two organizations. The 65 donors included teachers, students and community members. The event included a visit by 4-year-old Doryan Torres, a cancer patient at CHLA, who recently served as the honorary captain of the Golden Knight football team to raise awareness of his disease and promote the school’s blood drive.
Crescenta Valley Community Church held its first community blood drive Sunday, attracting more than 70 donors to a Cedars-Sinai mobile unit set up in the church’s parking lot. Their event originated when church worship leader Petri Nauha randomly met Cedars-Sinai blood donation representative Dave Keys at a coffee shop in Montrose.
“We [the church] had been looking for an opportunity to do something significant, and I thought, what better than giving the gift of life?” Nauha said. “It fit in with our effort to build a bridge to the community.”
First-time donor Bruce Horowitz overcame his needle phobia, citing a desire to do something for the community and motivation from God. Like most donors, he is a member of CVCC. Donors entered the bus-like bloodmobile several at a time to have their blood drawn, a process that takes about 15 minutes per person.
“Physically, it really wasn’t that bad,” Horowitz said. “It was more of a mental block.”
Apprehension is a normal response for any donor, said Keys. But, he said, giving blood is one of the best humanitarian causes.
“Blood donation goes beyond race, gender, religion and financial status,” he said. “It’s a great cause.”
Wednesday’s blood drive, hosted by the County of Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department at the Crescenta Valley Station, benefitted the American Red Cross as part of its sixth annual Southern California “Battle of the Badges” competition between all badge-carrying personnel to donate the most blood. Each station or office promotes their drive to their own geographical region in an effort to involve local constituents.
Deputy Jorge Valdivia said that this is the third time the CV station has participated and he had seen a wonderful response from the community.
“It was nonstop all day,” he said. “Last year we had 28 people come out, and this year we had over 40.”
Red Cross representative Susan Josephson was on hand to assist with the drive and explained that the need for blood is constant.
“Every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood,” she said. “Donated blood can be used for just 42 days, so we are always needing to replenish our supply.”
Blood from the sheriff’s department drive is transported to the local Red Cross facility in Pomona before it is distributed to hospitals throughout Southern California.