Koster & Puget Sound Blood Center drive draws dozens of donors to Smokey Point

Arlington's Keri Rickard relaxes as she donates to the Puget Sound Blood Center at the Medallion Hotel in Smokey Point on March 16.
— image credit: Kirk Boxleitner

SMOKEY POINT — Their reasons for giving varied from thoughtful to tongue-in-cheek, but they all rolled up their sleeves to give of themselves, literally.

The Puget Sound Blood Center once again teamed up with the Snohomish County Republican Party in Marysville, this time with Snohomish County Council member John Koster as well, to offer a spring blood drive in the Medallion Hotel on March 16, and Hannah Gustafson estimated that the six-hour event had attracted close to 40 donors by the time it was done.

"It's our first time in this location, but our third year of doing these donation drives," said Gustafson, of the membership committee of the Snohomish County Republican Party in Marysville, whose offices have served as a site for the Puget Sound Blood Center's collection vehicles during previous donation drives. "We wanted to attract folks from both Marysville and Arlington."

The drive began at 12:30 p.m. that day, and slightly more than four hours later, 29 donors had already registered. By that time, Arlington residents occupied all the available gurneys.

"I'm a frequent flier," laughed Jay Kilwien of Arlington, after phlebotomist Mat Ralston had removed the needle from her arm. "I donate as often as I can, about every two weeks or so, because I'm a nurse. Plus, I have extra blood, so I might as well give it to save a life."

"I don't like needles," said fellow Arlington resident Roy Frandsen, just before Ralston stuck the needle in his arm. Frandsen has nonetheless donated blood for four decades, and aside from getting stuck, "It's a very painless process."

Keri Rickard started donating blood when she joined the Army at 17, and she's continued to do so throughout the seven years since then.

"It's just a rush," Rickard said, after phlebotomist Wendy Marquardt had gotten her blood draw started.

Gustafson not only noted that blood bank supplies are typically lower during the winter months, but also cited the difference that blood donation had made to her own family's lives.

"My mother had a transfusion of blood before I was born, so I've told my children that none of them would be here if it hadn't been for other people selflessly donating their blood," Gustafson said. "Too many people let their busyness or their fears stop them from donating blood, but if everyone was too busy or too afraid, they'd be out of luck when they needed blood. John Koster supports blood donation because he knows from experience how life-changing it can be."

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