Out for Blood

WHEELING – Despite snowy and cold conditions outside, loyal blood donors were heading inside WesBanco Arena this morning for the annual American Red Cross Ohio Valley Media Day Blood Drive.

Doors opened at 10 a.m., and donors have until 7 p.m. today to donate to this much-anticipated blood drive.

Cheryl Gergely, American Red Cross communications manager for the Greater Alleghenies Blood Services Region, said walk-in donors are welcome.

The blood drive is sponsored and promoted by Wheeling area media outlets and is one of the largest one-day blood drives in the Greater Alleghenies Blood Services Region. The goal of this year’s blood drive is 350 successful donations. To meet such a goal, about 440 people will need to donate blood.

Despite recent bad weather, the American Red Cross decided not to cancel the blood drive. Gergely explained that weather has varied greatly at the event over the years.

“The need for blood continues regardless of the weather,” Gergely said. “Even when it has been cold and snowy, the people of Wheeling show their community spirit and have turned out to donate blood.”

According to Gergely, winter is a critical collection period for the Red Cross. She reminded donors, however, that “safety comes first” and they should use good judgment “when making a decision to come and donate blood.”

Although the Red Cross has a need for all blood types, O negative, the universal blood type which can be transfused to patients of all blood types, A negative and B negative are in “urgent need.” Only about seven percent of the population has type O negative.

Gina Walker, who is attending today’s blood drive to share her story, benefited from donated blood in February 2012 when she received 540 transfusions of blood and blood products after giving birth to her third child. Diagnosed early in her pregnancy with a medical condition called placenta percreta in which the placenta attaches itself too deeply into the wall of the uterus, possibily leading to dangerous blood loss, Walker is “grateful to see people out here” giving in the same way as those who gave the blood that saved her life.

“It’s so thrilling … just to see people give the gift of life,” Walker said regarding blood donors.

The 2014 Media Day blood drive includes a T-shirt provided, while supplies last, to those who donate blood. Local businesses will donate food. Free child care services, parking at the Intermodal Transportation Center and transportation provided by Airport Limousine, contacted at 304-232-1175, to and from the blood drive are available.

Those who are unable to attend today’s event will have the opportunity to donate blood from noon to 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Eastern Gateway Community College Founders Hall, 4000 Sunset Blvd., Steubenville.

“Every two seconds someone needs blood. Blood is needed by cancer patients, people with blood disorders, people having surgery and more,” Gergely said. “It is the blood already on the hospital shelf when the need for blood arises that helps save lives.”

Corporate sponsors for the blood drive include WesBanco Arena; Wheeling Intermodal Parking Garage; Bordas & Bordas; Walmart Foundation; Boscov’s; Project Best; West Texas Roadhouse; Ohio Bath Solutions, LLC; and Hampton Inn Wheeling.

Other businesses making donations to the drive include DiCarlo’s Pizza, Elm Grove and National Road; DeFelice Pizza, Wheeling; Wheeling Coffee & Spice; Cheddars; Ye Olde Alpha; Arby’s; Pepsi; Tim Horton’s; Wheeling Nailers; Airport Limousine Service; Perkins; Riesbeck’s; Osaka Steak House; and Garfield’s Restaurant.