ALPENA - Blood donors stopped by the Alpena Mall to roll up their sleeves and vote for a media sponsor Monday.
The annual American Red Cross Media Battle blood drive is sponsored by The Alpena News, WATZ, WBKB and True North Radio, donor recruitment representative Erin Bushey said. The Alpena Mall also provides the space. Donors got a chance to vote for one of the four media outlets, and the winner gets its name on a plaque.
The drive provides a way to meet constant demand for blood, platelets and plasma at a time when donors might have other things on their mind, Bushey said. Local media has the ability to promote events like blood drives, and the events are much more successful if sponsors actively promote them. This can be especially important around the holidays.
"People are busy traveling, and doing holiday things," she said. "Life gets busy, life gets hectic; people just don't think to come out and spend an hour donating blood."
All blood donated is separated into platelets, red blood cells and plasma, Bushey said. Platelets can help treat people with blood clotting disorders, including those with leukemia, red blood cells can help people with kidney diseases and plasma can help trauma patients and those with severe liver diseases, among the uses listed by the American Red Cross. This also means each pint donated can help up to three different people.
The need for blood is constant, Bushey said. While plasma can be stored frozen for up to a year, blood itself has a shelf life of 42 days. A single car crash victim may need as many as 100 units of blood, and nationwide someone needs an infusion every two seconds. She's thankful for the support American Red Cross gets from Alpena donors and drive hosts. There are several churches and organizations in and around the community that hold drives on a regular basis.
"Alpena is fantastic for community support," she said.
Peter Schuller is one such donor. He came out for Monday's drive, and said he gives blood as a way to help those in need of it after an emergency. He's never needed it himself, but his father gave blood and got him started, too.
Sue Talaski donates on a regular basis as well, she said. She has O-negative type blood, and as a universal donor she often gets a call when there's a blood drive. She usually comes with her children, but they couldn't make it Monday.
"I don't like needles, but I do this just because it doesn't really hurt, it doesn't cost anything and it doesn't take a lot of time," she said. "And you don't know, you might be the next person in need."
Shortly before the drive ended at 6 p.m., Bushey said she expected to beat the drive goal of 42 pints. They had collected 40 pints so far, with three people still donating and three more going through the signup procedure.
"It's just awesome, it's wonderful, especially around the holiday period," she said.
Those who didn't get a chance to give blood Monday have another chance today, Bushey said. St. Mary Education Center will host a drive from 9 a.m. to 2:45 p.m.
Visit www.redcrossblood.org/donating-blood for more information, including eligibility requirements for donors.