County GOP hosts Puget Sound Blood Center collection drive Jan. 14

MARYSVILLE — The offices of the Snohomish County Republican Party in Marysville played host to one of the Puget Sound Blood Center's collection vehicles Jan. 14, as donors both young and old turned out for six hours to give of themselves, literally.

Hannah Gustafson, of the membership committee of the Snohomish County Republican Party in Marysville, coordinated their first blood drive in conjunction with the Puget Sound Blood Center Jan. 14, as part of the party's stated commitment to providing for local needs and helping strengthen the community.

"It's an inexpensive way for people to help out, especially when funds can be tight," said Gustafson, who praised the blood center for its convenience and responsiveness in helping her set up the blood drive, which included suggestions on how she could get the word out about the blood drive. "Working with the blood center has been a joy, so please be encouraged to do this."

Gustafson was impressed by the response the blood drive received, and expressed the hope that "this will touch the lives of many, whether it be a mother, or a father, or a child."

Brendan Payne donated blood for the first time at the Jan. 13 blood drive, and he credited his participation to a mix of altruism and random chance. He'd wanted to donate blood for a while, but other obligations had precluded his doing so, until the non-profit group he works with attended a recent Snohomish County Republicans convention, where he learned of the blood drive in Marysville.

"When you get involved in your community, you never know where it's going to lead," Payne said, as he tried not to think about the needle in his skin. "I'm not going to let the feeling of being squeamish at the sight of blood stop me, so it shouldn't stop you either. I'm just thinking, 'This blood is life, going out from me into someone else.'"

Payne insisted that the experience of having his blood drawn was "actually pretty easy," aside from the initial discomfort of being stuck with a needle.

For Lisa Bartlow, the Jan. 13 blood drive marked her 58th time donating blood, and she didn't seem to be kidding when she said she was "working up to my eighth gallon."

For Bartlow, donating blood is a family tradition, since her father donated blood regularly, and her whole family has O Negative blood, making them "universal donors."

"I was just raised that this is one of the things you do," said Bartlow, who thanked the Snohomish County Republican Party for hosting the blood drive. "You go to church and you donate blood. It saves lives, and it's so easy. It only takes a few minutes. Be grateful for your health, and share it with others."

Nicky Byma, a blood collection specialist with the Puget Sound Blood Center, pointed out that a full day's worth of collections, even with as many as 30 donors, provides blood for, at most, "two people who have been hurt badly." He deemed this one of the main reasons why the Puget Sound Blood Center needs a steady supply of blood, especially since their supply serves all of Western Washington, from Blaine to Vancouver.

"It's imperative that we have a lot of donors, because it doesn't take very much at all to completely zap our blood supply," said Byma, who added that a single person can only donate blood once every 56 days. "There are large amounts of blood that are needed for all sorts of accidents and things like that, and we need a constant flow of blood coming in."

Byma explained that recent bad weather has dealt the blood center a double-whammy, by contributing to more injuries while also preventing as many people from donating blood. At the same time, Byma spoke glowingly of the turnouts that the blood center has continued to receive.

"In this job, since I've been here, I have had so much of my faith in humanity lifted, to see how many people come in when it's necessary," Byma said.

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