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Mamaroneck Blood Drive Draws More Donors Each Year

MAMARONECK, N.Y. -- Michael Sudano is a former Village trustee and 35-year teacher in the Mamaroneck school system, but Monday he was one of 62 willing donors at the Columbia Engine and Hose Company's annual blood drive.

"It's a way of saying thank you, of giving back," Sudano said with a smile.

The Mamaroneck resident, who taught at Mamaroneck Avenue Elementary School and the Mamaroneck High School, said he first gave blood at the N Barry Avenue firehouse in 1975.

The event, which went from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday, was run through United Hospital in Port Chester until 2006, when the hospital closed. Rob Deshensky and his wife Susan relaunched the event the following year with the help of the Red Cross, which they now work with every year.

"They do such a nice job," said Thomas Kane, account manager of donor service recruitment for the American Red Cross. "Last year, they almost got 50 units of blood, which ultimately helps 150 patients."

Every unit of blood helps three patients because it is broken down into platelets, red blood cells and plasma, Kane said. He added that platelets are most often used to help cancer patients, red blood cells are most often used in surgery and plasma is generally used for burn victims.

The Columbia firehouse's drive has grown in donors each year since it re-launched the event. Fewer than 20 people showed up the first year. Last year, 53 walked in to donate and 48 were eligible.

When a potential donor first walks in, they sign in and are given an informational pamphlet to review. If they choose to do so, they are taken back to the "History Area," where Red Cross volunteers check their medical history, temperature, blood pressure and iron level, which is required by the FDA. If everything checks out, they can donate.

Monday, 62 people signed up, but seven were deferred during that screening process, leaving 55 who were able to donate. The pint of blood taken from two of those 55 couldn't be used, resulting in 59 usable pints of blood.

During their examination, the Red Cross may suggest a donor use an Apheresis machine, which is also known as a double red cell machine because it allows a patient to donate two pints by extracting the red blood cells and returning the plasma and platelets into the donor. The process takes one hour and 35 minutes and requires the donor to be O-Negative and at least 5'1" and 130 pounds if male, or 5'1" and 150 if female because women have less iron.

"It's actually a little bit of a different feeling," said Michael Horan, who has given blood using an Aphoresis machine once before. "The initial prick and needle stick is all the same, but you can feel the difference. It's not horrible, but you can feel it."

You must wait 112 days between donating blood if using an Apheresis machine, compared to 56 days if you donate whole blood. Monday, six donors used the Apheresis machine to give two pints, and 47 gave one pint of whole blood.

Have you donated blood? Tell us why or why not by commenting below, on Facebook or Twitter .

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