Written by Chris Boyle Friday, 13 September 2013 00:00
Massapequans turned out in droves at the Bar Harbour Library for a special event last week to give a special gift to the community — the gift of life.
The Library hosted the New York Blood Center in one of its many blood drive efforts, and according to Dionis Xhindolli, donor specialist and the gentleman running Tuesday’s event, Massapequa is always a great spot to harvest the good red stuff.
“We hold blood drives here at least three or four times a year,” he said.
“Turnout at this library is always strong...this is a very nice community, and as you can see we’ve already had ten people come in and we’ve only been here 10 minutes so far.”
Xhindolli explained that the Blood Center’s job is never finished, as the substance they are charged with collecting is not only in high demand, but also quite perishable.
“Blood is always in need, because it has an expiration time...so once you collect it, you have to use it or lose it,” he said. “Certain components of blood, such as platelets and plasma, expire within five days, so we have to keep collecting constantly to keep the inventory high and meet the demands of the community.”
Among the many blood types available, Xhindolli said that the Blood Center is always on the lookout for one special kind in particular.
“O-Negative, which is known as the universal donor type,” he said. “It can be given to anybody, and that’s always in a short supply, because if you’re seriously injured and go to the emergency room and they don’t have your blood type, they can’t always wait to find it, so they can just give you O-Negative.”
In addition to the Massapequa Library, Xhindolli says the Blood Center also holds drives at a number of other Massapequa locations, including Massapequa High School, Massapequa Fire Department, and churches such as Our Lady of Lourdes and Saint Rose of Lima.
While 18 year-old Tiffany Philipplu of Massapequa Park is a newcomer to blood donation, she looked quite comfortable lying on one of the cots set up in the library’s basement auditorium while a Blood Center worker slowly extracted a pint of plasma from her arm. Philipplu said she intends to make this act a regular occurrence in her life going forward.
“This is going to be my third time,” she said. “My mom does it every chance that she can, and at first she was dragging me down with her, but it feels good to help people who need the blood, and obviously I have lots of it to help people with, so I’ve really developed an appreciation for it now.”
Tiffany’s mother, Joanne, was waiting for her daughter to finish up at a snack table provided for donors. She said that a personal emergency prompted her to start giving blood, and before she knew it, she had gotten the whole family in on the action.
“A few years ago my daughter got into a car accident, and she needed blood and no one in my family donated, so I stepped up,” she said. “And now I’ve convinced my brothers and sisters to donate as well, in addition to my daughter.”
Jesse Bouffier of Massapequa Park cited dangerous local driving conditions as a driving force behind his reasoning for giving the red stuff to those in need.
“At this point in the summer, people don’t donate as much, and there’s a lot of drinking and driving and these young kids are driving around irrationally...I almost got hit myself crossing Merrick Road the other day,” he said. “It’s nice to give back to the community and the hospitals, and I plan as donating as often as I can.”
However, despite good intentions, there are a few factors that can disqualify people from giving blood; among them are extended travel to countries afflicted with Malaria or Mad Cow Disease, recent tattoos and usage of antibiotics, and sufferers of Hepatitis.
Xhindolli said that the word needs to continue to spread about the need for regular blood donors in the community; with each pint donated, he said, a life is potentially saved.
“The community depends upon everyone that donates, and it’s very important,” he said. “Some people don’t understand until it hits their family or loved ones...of course, we can’t make blood, it only comes from people willing to donate it, and it’s vital to people who are sick.”