|Susan Moretti makes a platelet donation.
is a giant bear sitting inside the Children’s Hospital Boston
Donor Center. Perhaps you’ve seen him as you’ve
walked up the main staircase. “Barnesy the Noble Blood Donor”
is just one of many ways the center tries to lure potential donors
inside to help the many patients who receive blood products at CHB.
“Did you know that only 5 percent of the eligible population
donates blood?” says Robin Willis, Blood
Donor Center manager, who says the most common reason people give
for not donating is that they weren’t asked. “Consider
yourself asked,” she adds, referencing the tagline for a series
of American Red Cross ads the center has used to bring in donors
during the summer months, when donations tend to decrease.
Preparing for the worst during the DNC, the Donor Center began
heavily recruiting staff for donations, and the results were stunning.
Of donations collected that week, 43.6 percent were from staff,
up from an average of 15 percent during normal weeks.
Since January 2004, they have collected almost 6,000 units of blood
and more than 1,200 units of apheresis platelets. On any given day,
they try to keep 200 to 300 units available.
The Blood Donor Center offers a variety of incentives to get people
to donate, including T-shirts, mugs, tote bags and free one-day
parking passes at a Children’s garage. On Tuesdays you can
even snag a free slice of pizza.
For many donors, it’s a way to give back to the hospital
and directly help save a child’s life. Children being treated
for cancer, premature infants, accident victims, and children having
surgery are among the many who need blood and platelets from donors
of all types.
The CHB Blood Donor Center is an independent collection facility
that “supplies 90 to 95 percent of all the blood products
used by the hospital’s patients,” says Willis. It was
established in 1958, primarily to provide fresh blood for the new
field of open heart surgery.
According to Willis, the busiest donation times are from 10:30
a.m. to 1:30 p.m., but if you make an appointment you can basically
skip the waiting time. “We encourage people to call ahead,”
Whole blood donations take about 30 minutes and can help as many
as four children. The blood is separated into components of red
blood cells, platelets and plasma, and children are given just the
products they need, maximizing each donation.
Platelets, the blood components that cause clotting, are used primarily
in the treatment of patients with leukemia. These donations take
90 minutes and can be made every two weeks. Unlike red cells that
can be stored fresh for 30 to 40 days, platelets are only good for
“You can never really have a comfort zone when it comes to
an adequate blood supply. It can deplete rapidly,” says Willis.
Call the CHB Blood Donor Center at ext. 5-6677 for more information
or to set up an appointment. Additional information from the American
Association of Blood Banks is available at www.aabb.org.