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Blood drive sets record

Generous residents of the Land O'Lakes community did not hesitate to donate their time and blood for the Florida Bloodmobile on June 17.

The Tampa-based bloodmobile traveled to the Subway on State Road 54 in hopes that residents would contribute as much as they have in the past three years.

This trip ended in a record collection.

"This is one of the most successful blood drives in the Tampa Bay area," said Ken Wieback, director of communications for Florida Bloodservices of Tampa.

The event brought in 23 pints of blood and 24 donors, 12 of them new participants. Though the small bloodmobile was a bit cramped, Wieback said, he hopes that will not discourage people from donating.

"Knowing that you're saving two or three lives is perhaps worth the wait," he said.

Donors didn't seem to mind the wait, though, said Carl Thoma of Land O' Lakes.

"Every chair was filled, and they did have me sit there for a while. But I don't mind," he said. "I'm past due."

Lisa Santana of Land O' Lakes said she didn't mind either; the reasons for giving blood are much more important.

"This is my first time. I thought I'd try it, since the bloodmobile was in my area," she said. "I just wanted to do a good deed."

Wieback said thanks are also in order for Subway, which has worked with Florida Bloodservices for the past few years to make donating a better experience.

"Even though this is a serious thing, we try to make it kind of fun," he said. "Subway is a committed sponsor, who donated coupons and T-shirts for the event."

Wieback said that despite some minor disadvantages, the bloodmobile has been a major reason for the rise in donations.

"We do lose a certain personal touch with the bloodmobile. We don't get to know the donors personally," he said. "But it's a lot easier to get people to donate if you bring the mobile net to them."

Once the blood is collected, it is not kept for long, Wieback said.

"Within two weeks, that blood collected is gone and we need more," he said. "Blood can sit on the shelf for 42 days, but rarely do we see it for that long.

"Especially in the Land O'Lakes area recently, people wind up in hospitals who need blood themselves. We need to get out in the communities and let them know we're there to help."

That's just fine with some residents, Thoma said.

"They can take as much blood as they want. I'm not afraid of needles."

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