Impact Of Hurricane Sandy Inspires S.I. Blood Drive
One of the easiest ways to help your community after Hurricane Sandy is to donate blood, and donors did their part at a Sunday drive in the Arden Heights section of Staten Island. NY1's Natasha Ghoneim filed the following report.
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Needles and blood can make even the toughest New Yorkers squeamish. That is one reason why, according to the American Red Cross, only 4 percent of eligible people donate blood and supplies are consistently low.
At a Sunday blood drive at the Arden Heights Boulevard Jewish Center, Red Cross nurse Lou Costa said he has had decades to perfect his pitch.
"It's a little sting, a little pinch. That's about it. The needle will be in seven, eight, 10 minutes," Costa said. "After it's done, every first-timer I've done in 30 years says it wasn't so bad."
Hurricane Sandy disrupted the blood supply in the region but donations are needed all the time.
"Ten years ago, we had a blood drive at work and I've been giving ever since," said Robyn Lepani, a regular blood donor. "It's just very important to donate to people in need and who could use the blood."
The synagogue's president, Bernie Kahn, describes himself as a "pit bull" when it comes to getting people to donate. When he was 8 years old, a congenital heart defect required 20 people to give blood. It was a unique request in 1958, and it saved his life.
"You had to have whole blood then. You couldn't have people donate, freeze it, break it up, wherever. So it was an incredible event, both personally and historically," Kahn said.
First-time donor Meredith Feigel was willing herself not to think about the needle as she prepared to donate.
"Nervous. I want it to be over," she said.
But the knowledge that her donation could save the lives of three people, including her loved ones, squashed any fears.
"Well, my sister has had a lot of surgeries and I think about if she needed blood I'd want somebody to donate for her. So I think of it in a personal way, and I believe in helping," Feigel said.
Even when the blood supply is low, the demand is still great. The Red Cross says every two seconds, someone in the United States needs blood.