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Watertown Blood Donor Day encouraged people to donate blood

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American Red Cross employees said Tuesday during the annual Watertown Blood Donor Day that successful blood drives are measured by the number of donors who keep coming back.

Roberta J. Ayling, supervisor of operations for collections with the American Red Cross’s Syracuse Division, said that is because there’s always a shortage of all blood types, as she took a break from overseeing the blood drive Tuesday at the Dulles State Office Building, 317 Washington St.

“We never have enough blood,” she said. “We’re experiencing a national shortage. We’re lower than we have been in years as far as going into the summer.”

According to the most recent data from the national American Red Cross, in 2006 there were only 9.5 million out of the nation’s population of 300 million who donated blood.

Mrs. Ayling said the biggest reason people don’t give blood is because they haven’t been asked. Now, the Red Cross is asking north country residents to donate. As long as they are 17 years of age and up, weigh at least 100 pounds, and are in general good health they may be good candidates to give blood.

All types are needed, Mrs. Ayling said, especially Type O since it is universal.

Other reasons people have not donated blood, she said, is because they’re scared, they have traveled to certain foreign countries, or they recently had a tattoo. Mrs. Ayling said in New York State, someone must wait at least 12 months after they got a tattoo before they could possibly donate blood.

Before any blood is taken, interested donors must go through a brief history and mini-physical, to ensure their blood is OK to donate, according to Eleanor L. Luera. Appointments can be made, but walk-ins are also welcome. Blood drives are either held at a community organization or business, but the Red Cross’ Syracuse Division also has a “blood mobile” which travels throughout Central and Northern New York.

Mrs. Luera oversaw operations on the blood mobile Tuesday, when it was parked outside of Advanced Physical Therapy, 26495 State Route 3.

The 54-foot bus has five beds, three history rooms, and can accommodate between 30 and 35 people throughout one blood drive. Mrs. Luera said the bloodmobile is meant for smaller blood drives, for businesses or organizations which do not have enough room indoors to host one.

“Most of our donors on here are first-time donors,” she said. “It’s more intimate.”

Karen F. Granger, Watertown, was one of the first-time donors there.

“I think people should do it because there’s so many accidents and it’s the right thing to do,” she said, after giving blood. “I was glad I was helping someone because someday I might need some.”

Her first time donating blood wasn’t’ scary, she said, so she will donate again on Oct. 2, the 56-day minimum requirement in between each blood donation.

On Tuesday, a blood drive was also held at the Eagles Aerie 782, 19260 Route 11. Samaritan Medical Center will also host one as part of Watertown Blood Donor Day, but from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Friday at the hospital, 830 Washington St.

To donate blood, or for more information, call the Red Cross at (800) 733-2767.

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