Phi Theta Kappa partners for blood drive at ACC

News Photo by MJ Smith Kelly Lewis excitedly waits for Alexander Young to draw her blood during a blood drive at Alpena Community College on Thursday.

ALPENA — On Thursday, the Versiti Blood Center of Michigan partnered with Phi Theta Kappa at Alpena Community College to host a blood drive. The event was open to all members of the community and participants received $10 e-gift cards for donating.

Blood donations play a vital role in the treatment of cancer patients, as well as those who suffer from blood disease. The process consists of extracting three different substances: plasma, platelets, and whole red blood cells. Because of this, just one donation can save up to three lives.

For many, that alone ignites their passion for helping others. For others, having close friends and family with chronic illness inspires them to give back.

“People need people,” said Robert Blaisdell, a team lead phlebotomist at Versiti. Personally affected by the suffering of a loved one, Blaisdell was inspired not only to become a phlebotomist, but also to donate blood himself. Helping friends, family, and members of the community gives him a sense of purpose.

“You never know who is going to need that blood,” Blaisdell said.

Local donor Kelly Lewis was also inspired by personal experience with chronic illness to start donating blood. Lewis completed her seventh donation at Thursday’s event, which adds up to a gallon of blood since she started in 2019.

“I thought it was one of those simple, quick things that I could do to help other people out,” she said.

Despite the major impact donating blood can have on people’s lives, some are reluctant to become donors. Some people are uninformed about the benefits of giving blood and just how big of a difference it could make. Others have a fear of needles that hinders them from participating.

Phlebotomists try to mitigate those fears by curating a calm, safe, and fun environment for donors.

“As long as I can get them joking, I’ve yet to have someone stay scared,” Alexander Young, another phlebotomist at Versiti, said.

A donor himself, Young grew up donating blood frequently with his family at blood runs. “I wanted to join the medical field,” he said. “I’ve always had a passion for it, and this was a good entry point for me.

Nationally, we play an important role. While many chronically ill people benefit from blood donations, they aren’t the only ones. People who get in accidents also often rely on life-saving blood transfusions. “You lose a lot of blood when you get hurt, and it’s always good to have that on hand.”


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