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Droves turn out for blood drive

Annual event at the Bob Hope Airport continues to draw an impressive amount of much-needed pints.

July 28, 2007|By Chris Wiebe

AIRPORT DISTRICT — The scenic Skyroom at the Bob Hope Airport — a place usually reserved for board meetings and special events — was lined with phlebotomists and donor chairs Tuesday and Wednesday during the airport's 11th annual blood drive.

And rather than the fluorescent lights and linoleum floors that donors usually encounter at medical centers, participants were treated to a panoramic view of planes taking off and landing.

"It gives you something to distract you anyway," airport spokesman Victor Gill said.

The drive has drawn a larger and larger donor pool in recent years, as airport officials have partnered with local companies that invite their employees to contribute to the effort, Gill said.

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"It really helps to plug in to different businesses' constituencies so we can expand our efforts," he said.

This year, the airport joined with the Burbank Airport Marriott Hotel and Convention Center, Yahoo! Search Marketing and several other companies in Burbank, he said.

In the program's early days, a single drive would produce about 25 pints of blood, he said. Totals had already reached 62 pints Tuesday, with even more donors expected Wednesday, he said.

"The biggest thing is that we can do more with partners than we can do individually," he said.

Airline carriers at the Bob Hope Airport — including JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, Alaska Airlines and US Airways — put round-trip airline tickets up for grabs in a raffle for donors, he added.

The blood collected at the drive will benefit patients in the San Fernando Valley, going to both Providence St. Joseph Medical Center and Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in Mission Hills, said Tiffany Hansen, a blood donor center recruiter for Providence hospitals.

More than half of the hospitals' blood supply comes from blood drives throughout the year, she said.

"We do donor center drives, but most of what we collect is from the community — because it's more convenient to come during something like this when you're already out at work," Hansen said.

Fewer donors tend to show up during the summer because a large portion of donations are obtained during school blood drives, she said.

"During the regular school year, we get tons of blood from the kids, but when they're out for the summer, we can't do drives for them," she said.

The two-day drive was expected to bring in more than 125 pints of blood, which would otherwise cost hospitals $300 a pint to obtain, she said.

"What people don't realize is that blood is a medical product and has a cost associated with it," she said.

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