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Annual #11Together Blood Drive draws dozens to meet the need for blood donors

WTOL 11 has hosted the #11Together Blood Drive since 2011. Since then, over 1,300 pints of blood have been collected thanks to community support.

MAUMEE, Ohio — UPDATE: The American Red Cross said 89 pints of blood were collected on Friday, seven more than its goal of 82. The Red Cross said it was a "fantastic day."

Dozens of lives have been saved through an all-day blood drive for the American Red Cross held at Maumee United Methodist Church.

Since 2011, WTOL 11 has partnered with the American Red Cross in March for the #11Together blood drive. Even before Friday's event, more than 1,300 pints of blood have been donated.

They were booked with new appointments every 15 minutes and people of all ages came out to donate.

One person donates one pint, which is enough blood to save three lives.

There were some first-time donors but many others came out who donate once every 56 days. That’s how long you have to wait in between donations.

Jocelyn Zappala just reached the six-gallon mark today for donations.

Zappala recalled the first time she donated.

“To save up to three lives each time. The six gallons go all the way back to me in high school, and I remember having my first donation in our high school gymnasium and being a little bit nervous," she said. "But then once I got that underway, the first one, it was pretty easy from there."

It's an incredible achievement for someone who realized the need at a young age.

“Playing team sports, I wanted to be a part of a bigger picture and a bigger team and this was one small sacrifice I felt like I could make to impact the greater good," Zappala said. "And actually, since then, I have had family members that have been diagnosed with cancer that have needed blood, so that just goes on top of the good that I wanted to do."

Blood donations go to cancer patients, sickle cell anemia patients and victims of car crashes or other trauma. 

March is also a time when all blood types are needed. Coming off a winter season when many potential donors didn’t want to head out in the cold, the need has only gotten greater since people and families are now leaving for spring break and aren’t available to donate.

“We are in kind of that situation where we have this big population of baby boomers that have been such a great generation of givers, and they’re getting to that age where they might not be able to donate for different reasons," said Rachel Hepner-Zawodny, the executive director of the American Red Cross’ Toledo-area chapter. "And so we have to inspire that next generation of donors, and we have to teach them."

The concern about the future of donors is real. Many haven’t come back since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Many others are older and can’t donate anymore because they are on certain medications.

That means a youth movement, of sorts, could be the answer for the American Red Cross.

“We know that we can’t manufacture blood. It has to go from human to human and all of these individuals that come out, they understand that we need to have these blood products available to doctors at any moment," Hepner-Zawodny said. "We never want to get into a situation where we just don’t have those."

If you missed today’s blood drive, there are more planned throughout the year by the American Red Cross. Visit redcrossblood.org to donate.


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