CLINTON TOWNSHIP — Michelle Andre has donated blood pretty regularly since she was 18 years old, with the exception of when she was pregnant or sick. Now 51, she estimates she’s on her fifth or sixth gallon.
“A lot of people need blood, and it’s not that hard to donate,” the Clinton Township resident said. “And I work at a hospital, so I know it’s good to help people.”
As a CAT scan technologist, Andre works with cancer patients every week who have received blood transfusions. While many people assume that donated blood is only used to replenish blood after a severe injury, the components of blood — red blood cells, platelets and plasma — can also be used to treat a wide variety of ailments, from leukemia, to premature newborns, to blood disorders.
So when Andre received an email from Chippewa Valley Schools, telling her the high school — where her youngest child goes to school — would be one of six locations where people could donate to the Clinton Township Community Blood Drive, she decided to stop by.
“It matters. It’s something you can do to help mankind,” she said. “It’s just a satisfaction that you’re helping somebody.”
In its 14th year, the blood drive ran March 12-13 at six locations around the township: the Clinton Township Senior Adult Life Center, the Clinton Township Police Department, Clintondale High School, the L’Anse Creuse Wheeler building, Chippewa Valley High School and the Baker College campus on Little Mack.
Clinton Township partnered with the American Red Cross and hosting facilities to offer the two-day blood drive, which is one of the largest in southeastern Michigan.
The total number of pints donated during the blood drive wasn’t known until after press time, but the 2012 drive produced roughly 380 pints, according to the Red Cross. Besides producing hundreds of pints of blood donations every year, the Clinton Township drive also generates awareness about the need for blood.
Hundreds of pints of blood are used every day at the 43 hospitals in southeast Michigan. According to the Red Cross, a single donation can end up helping up to three people, since each can be broken down into three parts.
Debra Latour, 58, of Harrison Township, said she gives blood because she knows the need for it and figures someday she could be in a position where she needs some.
On March 13, Latour donated again, but this time brought along her significant other, Phil Cusmano. It was the first donation for Cusmano, 60, of Clinton Township.
“It’s a date night,” Latour joked.
The Red Cross recommends waiting at least eight weeks between making donations.
At the refreshment station, where donors eat snacks and drink juice and water after giving blood, Debra Osbourn said one of the reasons she donates is because she has Type O-negative blood, which, unlike other blood types, means her blood can be used universally.
“I’m at the age where I want to start giving back,” said the 57-year-old Mount Clemens resident. “When I found out my blood type was rare, it’s even more important.”
Blood donations can be arranged through the Red Cross by calling 1-800-RED-CROSS, or by visiting www.redcrossblood.org.
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