LITTLE FALLS - Some caring local residents celebrated the season by stopping by and donating the priceless gift of life.
Last Sunday's first ever Passaic Valley Regional Holiday Blood Drive, held at the Little Falls Civic Center, was a success according to organizers Ali H. Aljarrah of Little Falls and Teresa Reynolds of Totowa. Along with the New York Blood Center (NYBC), the blood drive resulted in a total of 16 pints of blood donated from the regional community.
"We had a lovely staff from the New York Blood Center," said Reynolds. "Their driver, Richie Vanalstyna, made sure everything was set up in an orderly function for us to begin the blood drive. The person in charge, Lisa Mahoney, did a wonderful job instructing the donor specialists and maintaining smooth operations throughout the day."
Additionally, three donor specialists from the NYBC, Diana, Nalisha and Maria, all made sure the blood donors were comfortable awhile they were in the donation process, Reynolds added.
"Blood is needed most now, especially this time of year. Patients undergoing chemotherapy and trauma centers always have a constant need for blood and the need becomes even more critical during winter and close to holiday season," she explained, adding that historically, donations drop drastically this time of year and blood banks struggle to keep up with the hospitals demand for blood.
"With knowing that, Ali and I found it imperative to host a blood drive in the area," she noted.
According to Aljarrah, the hope was to encourage the community to give back, in the spirit of the holidays. The goal was to send the message of the importance of giving blood, and serve as a catalyst for promoting change and unity, which would increase the chance of saving lives.
As college freshman, both Aljarrah and Reynolds are hoping to inspire other young people to take the lead and become "agents of change."
"As we plan to make the Passaic Valley Regional Blood Drive annual, we hope to gain more donors in the upcoming years," he noted.
Jim Doran, 78, of Little Falls, stopped by to donate blood and said he normally donates blood to the Blood Center of New Jersey. As a cancer survivor, he said he has a real motivating factor for doing so.
"A congressman helped to pass legislation to prevent anyone who has or has had any form of cancer from donating blood years ago," he recalled. "So that prevented me from giving blood for 30 years. Thankfully, I'm now free of my skin cancer and it's good that legislation was changed approximately 15 years ago, which kept me from donating."
Doran now says that he donates blood as often as he's able to.
"Just because someone thinks something is a good initiative doesn't mean it makes good law," he added. "I'm thankful to be cancer free and that I can donate blood. It feels good!"
According to the NYBC about 2,000 donations are needed each day in the New York/New Jersey area for patients who require a lifesaving blood and/or platelet transfusion.