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Blood donors give of themselves

Joan Bergman, a regular volunteer for blood drives at South Whidbey's American Legion Post 141 in Langley, understands the importance of having an adequate blood supply available.

The Freeland resident learned firsthand about donated blood when her husband was ill.

"When my husband was ill he received many pints of blood. I know how important it is for people who are sick or injured to have an adequate supply available. Volunteering here is my way of giving back to my community while helping others," Bergman said.

Bergman, along with a number of other volunteers, handed out homemade cookies and juice Monday to blood donors at the legion hall.

The quarterly blood drive is sponsored by the South Whidbey Community Blood Drive and held at the legion hall. The drives support the Puget Sound Blood Center in Seattle. Patients and hospitals in Western Washington are served primarily by the Puget Sound Blood Center, which is a non-profit, community-supported organization.

Retiree Bill Langdon of Langley, who was at the legion hall Monday, has been donating blood since his early 20s.

"I am type O, the universal blood type, so I can can help a lot of people," he said.

Langdon and several other donors said the good homemade cookies always bring them back. That goes double for Betty Lehman's cookies. Lehman is the volunteer coordinator the local blood drive.

"I wouldn't miss Betty's cookies," Langdon said.

Langdon's Type O negative, occurs in about 8 percent of the U.S. population. It can be used on people with any blood type. AB positive, which occurs in only 2.5 percent of the U.S. population, is a universal recipient and can receive blood from any other blood type.

Staff from the PSBC screen potential donors and do the actual blood draw. The donation process includes registration, a brief medical screening, the blood collection, and time for refreshments before leaving.

According to Gayle Richards, a PSBC spokeswoman, 77 South Whidbey residents registered to donate this week.

"Of those 77, 13 were unable to donate, so there was a total of 63 pints collected on Monday," Richards said.

South Whidbey's blood drive is coordinated by Janice Martinovic of the Langley Clinic. The drive went better than she expected.

"I am thrilled with the number of people who were able to donate. February is a tough month because of the all the colds and flu," she said.

Since last February, 368 residents have registered as donors.

One of the donors is Ann McGinty, who at 90-plus years of age the oldest donor on South Whidbey.

"She is regular as rain. We can always count on her," Martinovic said.

To ensure the safest possible blood supply, screening questions must be asked of all donors at each donation. Donors may be deferred from donating due to a low iron level. This requirement is for the safety of the donor to ensure that after donation.

Joanne Short was deferred this time for a shortage of iron.

"It is very disappointing to me," Short said. "Maybe next time."

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