Blood centers, airport pull together to honor plane crash victims

July 17, 2013 at 3:45 pm

Photo by Tim Gilmore

Photo by Tim Gilmore
It’s not every day you can help save a life while you wait for your connecting flight!

By Dayna Kerecman Myers

As news of the Asiana plane crash on July 6 at San Francisco International Airport trickled in, we began hearing from blood donors asking if they could help. Their offers were well timed. Stanford Blood Center (SBC) was already working hard to replenish the blood supply after particularly heavy usage over the Fourth of July holiday week.

Even after the need for blood for victims of the crash subsided, people in our community wanted to do something to help. In particular, staff at the San Francisco International Airport wanted to honor the plane crash victims and the emergency crews who rushed to help them.

In response, Stanford Blood Center, Blood Centers of the Pacific (BCP), and the San Francisco International Airport pulled together and managed to swiftly organize a blood drive at the airport, which took place on Monday, July 15. Tim Gilmore, an SBC account manager who helped organize the drive, thanked everyone involved in the planning, noting that it was a true team effort. “We saw a great response from the community, airport staff — even some travelers got into the spirit. This spotlight gave us the opportunity to educate people about the importance of blood donations and Stanford Blood Center,” he said.

At the end of the day, SBC registered 59 donors and collected 49 units of blood. Combined with BCP, we registered 122 donors and collected 91 units of blood. The outcome, in sheer numbers, was double what we expected, and is helping us get back on track following the Fourth of July holiday.

We’re also grateful to the local media, which helped us shine a spotlight on the need for blood donors in this community. San Francisco’s CBS station shared the story of an airport employee who saw the plane crash outside her office window. She stepped up to donate for the first time on Monday, determined to help in some way. She said it was her way to give back and stand in solidarity with the families and friends of the victims of the plane crash.

A local Girl Scout wanted to help, too, and San Francisco’s ABC station aired her touching story. Her family drove from San Jose through rush hour traffic to make the blood drive. While her dad donated blood, she donated an overflowing basket of candy to share with blood donors.

Sometimes, it takes a major emergency to catch the attention of the public about the need for blood donations, and we’re grateful for the interest and enthusiasm we have seen in the past week. But blood centers know the importance of the regular donors, too – the people who respond to an initial call to donate blood, and make it part of their routine to keep on giving. These people make sure that when there is an emergency, blood is on the shelves to help patients in need. And we’re betting that the next time disaster strikes, some of the generous new donors we met on Monday will be among the first to call and see if we need blood donors.