Blood banks looking for donors

MANCHESTER – When Ken Hauser donated blood for the first time in 15 years, he never suspected he would need it all back, and then some, six months later.

About two years ago, Hauser, a Bedford resident, collapsed on a Granite Street sidewalk in Manchester. He had been heading toward the Verizon Wireless Arena to watch a hockey game.

Two days later he had open-heart surgery at Elliot Hospital.

He joined Red Cross officials, hospital representatives and others Wednesday morning, at the Red Cross center on Reservoir Avenue in Manchester, to help kick off a region-wide public awareness campaign called “Consider Yourself Asked.”

“It is the blood on the shelves today that helps people like me tomorrow,” Hauser said.

His daughter convinced him six months before he collapsed on the sidewalk to start donating blood again. He had not donated in 15 years, and donated two times before his trauma. He then received blood given by others during his surgery, and now gives back by donating on a regular basis.

“It’s kind of nice to have come full circle again,” Hauser said.

During the summer months, New England regularly experiences a blood shortage. Last year, the shortage started in June. This year, the organization plans to get a head start and promote awareness before the supply is low.

The blood banking community is in need of help, said Dr. Richard Benjamin, chief executive officer for the American Red Cross Blood Services of the New England region.

“Many people say they don’t give blood because they’ve never been asked; well consider yourself asked,” he said.

Bob Carter, who works for the Red Cross, said during the summer many people who donate on a regular basis go on vacation, and local colleges and schools, where blood drives are usually successful, close for the summer.

According to Maj. Gen. John Blair, adjutant general of the New Hampshire National Guard, the problem is also exacerbated in summer months because more people visit the state, more people participate in outdoor activities and more people travel on highways.

“The need is now, the need is real,” Blair said, “A reliable blood supply is a community responsibility.”

Blood is often needed for trauma patients and transplant surgeries, as well as for cancer patients and other people with life-threatening diseases.

Donations can be made at local drives or Red Cross Donor Centers. Blood donors must be 17 or older, at least 110 pounds and in general good health. For more information, call 1-800-448-3543.

Andrea Bushee can be reached at 594-5860 or busheea@telegraph-nh.com.