Linda M. Watson donated blood for the first time in 20 years on Tuesday, as part of the fourth annual Watertown Blood Donor Day.
The timing of the event was impeccable, the Watertown resident said, and compelled her to call the Red Cross on Tuesday morning and ask if she could donate at Eagles Aerie 782, 19260 Route 11.
A grandson of a friend of mine was diagnosed with leukemia last week, so Im donating for him, she said, as she sat down to rest after giving blood.
She said she wasnt able to donate for two decades after she was put on a few medications. Her health has since improved, and the Red Cross gave her the go-ahead to donate just a couple of hours before she went to the Eagles club. Since her children donate blood regularly, Mrs. Watson said, she is glad to rejoin the family affair.
As she shared her story, a woman next to her said her grandchild had also been diagnosed with leukemia. Mrs. Watson said the blood-donating process is easy and painless, and helps save lives of not just her friends family members, but also of so many others.
Jean M. Messer, Harrisville, said she donated blood at the Eagles club simply to give back to the community.
Roberta J. Ayling, supervisor of operations for collections with the American Red Crosss Syracuse Division, said only 35 appointments were booked there Tuesday, but walk-ins usually keep the staff fairly busy.
We had an initial rush; the first hour is always the busiest, she said. People want to get in and out.
To donate blood, a person must be at least 17 years old, weigh more than 110 pounds and be in good general health. The weight requirement makes the agency lose potential donors for double-red donation, Mrs. Ayling said. That process is automated and collects two units of red cells during one appointment, returning a donors plasma and platelets and only taking red blood cells.
The hospitals like that because its better for the recipient of blood to give them two red cells from one person, Mrs. Ayling said. Donors like it, too, because they dont have to come back as much, and they feel better because we give them back their plasma.
The Red Cross does not have a critical shortage of any particular blood type, which is just the way the agency likes it, according to Daniel J. Villa, director of the Northern New York chapter. Blood types include negative and positive of A, B, AB and O.
The time it takes to donate blood is about 15 to 30 minutes, according to Will P. Pitts, supervisor of operations for the Red Crosss New York/Pennsylvania Blood Services. He was stationed Tuesday at the Dulles State Office Building, another Watertown Blood Donor Day site.
Red Cross officials hope this years event yields 167 units of blood among stations at the State Office Building, Eagles club and Advanced Physical Therapy, 26495 Route 3. Samaritan Medical Center spokeswoman Krista A. Kittle said the hospital held a blood drive Monday that collected 24 units alone.