Lake Placid blood drive to honor memory of Bobby Preston, Denny Allen

Bob Glennon, left, and Tim Wood are seen before giving blood at the Adirondack Medical Center in Saranac Lake on Monday, June 3. (News photo — Galen Halasz)

SARANAC LAKE — For most, donating blood is an act of public service. For local resident Mary Waterson, it’s a medical necessity.

On Monday, June 3, Waterson was in the Adirondack Medical Center’s Redfield Room in Saranac Lake, where the Adirondack Regional Blood Center staff were conducting a blood drive. She has hemochromatosis, a metabolic disorder, which requires her to give blood to avoid a buildup of excessive iron content in her circulatory system.

“I store iron in my body, so if I don’t give blood, it stays in my body — the iron — and it can cause medical problems,” Waterson said. “So this is a good way to do it rather than just, you know, having a phlebotomy somewhere and then just wasting (the blood).”

Waterson said her frequency of blood donations depends on what her iron levels are when she gets her blood tested. Higher iron levels mean she has to donate more frequently, but she typically gives blood approximately every six months.

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, one in 300 people in the U.S. have hereditary hemochromatosis.

When Waterson arrived to Monday’s blood drive, she had to go through extra steps to check in because of her diagnosis. She said that the staff needed a doctor to sign off on her medical profile to confirm that her blood was safe to use in a transfusion. The confirmation proves that Waterson is healthy, will not face risks by having her blood taken and has not been taking medications that might compromise her blood quality.

She was able to procure a standing order for one year that cleared her to give blood both in the Hudson Headwaters clinic in Saranac Lake and at the Adirondack Regional Blood Center in Plattsburgh.

Other donors expressed their hopes that by giving blood they could do a public good. Showing off a card marked with seven previous donations, Ray Brook’s Bob Glennon said about his motivation to donate.

“Maybe there’s somebody out there who can use my old-timer blood more than I can,” he said. “And I like to think it’s healthy to make new blood.”

Glennon said he gives blood “whenever they come here.”

He said he felt faint the last time he donated, so this time he made sure to eat beforehand. His strategy worked because when asked how he felt after his blood was drawn, Glennon said he was feeling fine.

About 29,000 units of blood are needed in the U.S. every day for transfusions, according to the CDC.

Lake Placid blood drive

On Monday, American Red Cross Blood Services based in Albany announced a July 11 blood drive at the Olympic Center in Lake Placid to honor the memory of former state Olympic Regional Development Authority employees Bobby Preston and Denny Allen.

The blood drive will take place from noon to 6 p.m. in the Olympic Center’s Empire Room.

In 1997, Preston lost his life at the age of 36 following an accident. Nearly 200 units of blood were used, as doctors worked hard to save his life, according to American Red Cross Blood Services Account Manager Robin Robinson. Preston was the director of operations at the Olympic Center.

Allen died of heart disease in 2019 at the age of 64. A year earlier, he retired from ORDA as the Olympic Center’s general manager after more than 37 years of service.

“Summer presents a particular challenge due to vacations, schools being out of session, and activities keeping everyone busy — making it a tough time to keep a sufficient blood supply,” a Red Cross press release stated. “When blood donations go out the door faster than we can collect them, a shortage may happen and delay essential medical care.”

To make an appointment or to learn more, download the American Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit RedCrossBlood.org (enter sponsor code: LAKEPLACIDNY), call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) for assistance or enable the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device.

A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age in most states (16 with parental consent), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.

Completion of a RapidPass online health history questionnaire is encouraged to help speed up the donation process. To get started, follow the instructions at RedCrossBlood.org/RapidPass or use the Blood Donor App.

(Editor/Publisher Andy Flynn contributed to this report.)

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