Donors visited the Red Cross in Ridgewood on March 10 to give the lifesaving gift of blood at a blood drive hosted by the Youth Council of Bergen County in support of Red Cross Month.
A regular blood donor since 2000, Carl Gravely attended the blood drive to make a double red cell donation.
Every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood and red blood cells are the most frequently used blood component. Donors are able to make twice the difference by donating two units of red cells during a single double red cell donation.
An apheresis machine allows donors to safely donate two units by collecting red cells and returning the remaining blood components, along with some saline, back to the donor.
According to Gravely, the donation process was nearly painless. “Ripping the bandage off at the end of the night is what hurts the most,” he said.
Gravely first heard about double red cell donation at a blood drive he attended while in college. Due to a great turnout of donors, there was an hour-long wait to donate whole blood but six empty tables set up for double red cell donation.
“They told me I could wait or donate double red right away, so I did,” he said.
Since college, Gravely has made a double red cell donation every 16 weeks, donating a total of more than three gallons of blood.
“I don’t come for the needles,” Gravely said jokingly when asked why he donates. “I figure I’ll donate when I can. In 50 years I may be on the other end. You just never know.”
During the blood drive, Youth Council of Bergen County members took turns wearing the Buddy the Blood Drop costume outside to promote the blood drive and bring in donors.
PLEASE DONATE BLOOD NOW For more information about donating blood, or to make an appointment to donate blood or platelets, please visit redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). Individuals who are at least 17 years of age (16 with parental consent in New Jersey), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.