Monday, August 30, 2010

2010 INOVA Blood Drive At Nationals Park

"There is a need for blood every day. We need to collect at least 200 units of blood every day to meet the needs of the patients in our community," stated Terri Craddock, Director of INOVA Blood Services. "And when we can come down here and do a blood drive like this and get 200, 300 units of blood that’s great. It’s great for our patients."

Saturday, August 28th was the second and final INOVA Blood Drive of 2010 scheduled for Nationals Park. In partnership with Our Washington Nationals, INOVA Blood Services teamed up with D.C.'s Major League Baseball Team to get the word out that the need for blood for patients is always necessary--as is the willingness of individuals to donate.

470 people signed up to donate for this past weekend's event, many using the opportunity to combine volunteerism with their love of baseball. Washington's Baseball Team sent information out to all season ticket holders and fans encouraging them to attend. Many that participated in this latest blood drive attended that night's game with The St.Louis Cardinals on South Capitol Street as well.

"Our sports partnerships are vital because sports fans are already loyal," believes Melanie Allen, Marketing Manager for INOVA Blood Services. "They are pretty loyal to their teams. So when their teams ask them to do something--normally--they will come out and do it for their team. And we need loyal blood donors. So it’s kind of synonymous. The loyal sports fan and the loyal blood donor. We hope to keep them. A couple of blood donors we’ve talked to today have gone to our Washington Capitals events. We have a partnership with them as well as The Nationals. We schedule the Caps in the spring, two drives during the summer with The Nationals and one more in the fall with The Capitals. And one of our donors has been to all of our blood drives so far. That's how loyal fans can be."

On a yearly basis, INOVA Blood Services hopes to draw 94,000 units of blood which is distributed to their 15 local hospitals and life-saving partners. 65% of all donated blood comes from events similar to the one held at Nationals Park on August 28th. Each month, INOVA Blood Services conducts approximately 100 blood drives in the local community. Those mobile events help enhance INOVA's four permanent blood donation centers located in Northern Virginia in Sterling, Annandale, Centreville and Mt. Vernon. According to INOVA Blood Services, only 5% of the eligible population donates blood and that's because many have never been asked, while some--might be hesitant to participate.

Terri Craddock: "Most of the time it’s because they have never been asked. Some are afraid. Some have just never been asked or don’t even think about it. But once you ask them and do a one-on-one ask, people are usually pretty willing to donate. I think there is a lot of apprehension about donating for the first time. Usually once you do it, you usually get the fear out of the way and most people come back and do it again. But I think the fear of the unknown bothers some people and keeps them from giving it a try. But those that do--find the process to be very simple."

Nationals Fan Phil Goldman has been donating blood for over 40 years and can't understand the hesitancy of others: "It’s nothing. It’s nothing. You will feel much better because you gave and are helping someone else in the long run. When I heard this was coming (to Nationals Park), I knew I was going to come. In fact, I wanted to come."

There are two types of donations taken at any INOVA Blood Drive. A person can donate a full blood donation or they can do what is called a "double red cell" donation in which they give two units of just red cells. INOVA can also take a unit of plasma as well then. This "double red cell" donation skips the component process of breaking the blood down into three different components--red cells, plasma and platelets--which in the long run--gets the units out to INOVA's patients faster. O-Negative blood is the most widely collected units desired and gathered. O-Negative blood is found in only 7% of the population, but it is the universal donor blood. Anybody can receive O-Negative blood, which is what INOVA uses most with their patients in their hospitals and on board their emergency helicopters transferring patients to trauma units. Medical personal can transfuse O-Negative blood to any patient without fear of a cross-match.

As an incentive for those participants at Nationals Park on Saturday, each donor was given two tickets to a future Nationals game, and a special Curly "W" themed Build-A-Bear Bloodhound. Those fortunate enough to donate between the hours of 1PM and 2PM were also greeted by Nationals Pitcher Tyler Clippard, who worked the room, took pictures, signed autographs for anyone wishing and came away impressed by what he witnessed:

Tyler Clippard: "This sheds a new light that what we are doing out there (on the field) as baseball players is not really that important--you know what I mean. There are many more things in this city and this world, in general, of people contributing and helping out--that’s a lot more important than what we do as baseball players. So, it’s nice to see that and be here as part of it too."

Not only are INOVA's sports partnerships huge to their blood drive success, but so are the promotional goodies given to donors as a thanks for coming. While Our Washington Nationals provided tickets and the Bloodhound, The Washington Capitals, through INOVA Blood Services--presents donors with a limited-edition bobblehead of one of their players. Believe or not, the goodie handed out is the clincher to getting some to participate.

"Some donors are truly altruistic and don’t want anything," stated Melanie Allen. "They will come out no matter what. But some will never donate again if you don’t give them anything. So, we have a wide spectrum of donors. We really do. And it doesn’t matter. If they want to come out and be a blood donor--we hope they will get to a point where they realize they are doing something for someone else. So they might not need something every time. But if we can thank them in one way or another with the Bloodhound, the tickets, the bobblehead, or the tee-shirt--then that’s what we need to do. They are taking their time to come out and see us. They are spending their gas money and their time away from their family and friends to come donate blood. So, we will take them in, in anyway that we can."

After every single unit of blood is checked through the 13 steps mandated by the FDA for infectious diseases and cleared to be used, INOVA Blood Services places the hundreds of donations gathered from Saturday's drive in their facilities in just a few short days.

"There is always a need for blood no matter the time of the year, or the situation," concluded Terri Craddock. "So please keep coming out to donate. We love our partnership with The Nationals. It’s really been successful for us. The fans are great and they (The Nationals) have a great ability to drive their fans to this donation location. And that's why we really like working with them."

Dates and public locations for any INOVA Blood Drive can be found at At that website, donors can also schedule a time and place to participate at their convenience.

All Photos Copyrighted--Nats320--All Rights Reserved

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