Airport blood drive draws more than 100 donors

Photo by Heather Middleton

Photo by Heather Middleton

Blood donors, sporting smiling faces, walked in and out of the Department of Aviation's Gateway Conference Room, at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

Octavius Neal, a bartender at Paschal's/LaCarousel restaurant at Hartsfield-Jackson, walked up to the sign-in booth, on Friday, to donate blood.

When asked why he had decided to donate, Neal responded, "Because someone may need it."

The airport had 110 donors, and collected approximately 60 pints of blood, Friday, falling a little short of their 68-pint goal, during the sixth annual Airport Community Blood Drive, according to Katena Carvajales, media relations manager at Hartsfield-Jackson.

Atlanta's airport partnered with the American Red Cross for the event, which was open to airport employees and passengers, according to Carvajales.

Carvajales said the event was held, because the need for donations is urgent during the summer months when families typically go on vacation, and college and high school students are away because schools are not in session. Adding to the urgency is the fact that the summer months are also a time when more accidents and injuries occur, because people are typically more active.

Area hospitals and individuals are in need of different types of donations, including whole blood, platelets, double red cell, and plasma donations, according to the American Red Cross web site, www.redcrossblood.org.

"Reports from the American Red Cross show that the lowest blood supplies fall within the months of June, July and August, and that is also the time when more accidents are reported," said Tracy Gilbert, special programs manager at Hartsfield-Jackson, reiterating the shortages of blood that area hospitals are facing.

"The airport has made a commitment to do its part, by picking up the slack from other organizations that are not heavily staffed in the summer, like schools and colleges," she added.

The first 100 donors were treated to a complimentary lunch provided by Houlihan's Catering, airport officials said. Donors were also provided with American Red Cross T-shirts, and free chair massages from the AeroClinic, located at the airport.

In addition, donors were entered into various drawings and won prizes, such as a $50 Lowe's gift card, $25 gas cards, compliments of the AeroClinic; a weekend getaway, compliments of the Atlanta Airport Marriott; dinner for two at Red Lobster, and family pack passes to Zoo Atlanta, officials said.

To facilitate transportation for airport employees, a shuttle bus drove every 30 minutes to, and from, Hartsfield-Jackson's Tech Campus, and the Training and Maintenance buildings, airport officials said.

"We have more airport community participation," said Hartsfield-Jackson Special Programs Manager Gilbert. "This year, [U.S. Customs and] Border Protection and AirTran [Airways] have joined the steering committee. We also have more business community support, which allows us to offer better raffle prizes for our donors."