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Blood drive aims to restore supplies for Havasu region

April 18, 2019

The need for blood is never-ending. But hundreds of Lake Havasu City residents are answering the call this week at the Aquatic Center.

Vitalant, a Las Vegas-based company, is conducting a blood drive intended to keep blood supplies adequate in Vegas and some areas of Arizona. The blood drive continues today.

Aggie Ponder, a proud, 27-year resident who is originally from Southern California, gave blood Wednesday afternoon under the direction of Vitalant technician Genesis Torres.

“I’ve donated three times a year every year since I moved here,” Ponder said. “Many years ago, when someone realized my type was AB positive, they said I should be donating.

“It’s a way of giving back, it only takes 5 or 10 minutes and it does a lot of good,” Ponder said. “And it doesn’t hurt that I have good veins!”

Torres, who moved to Vegas a few years ago from Florida, said Wednesday’s turnout had been very good.

“We can take walk-ins and we had 123 people make appointments today,” Torres said.

Giving blood isn’t just a good thing to do, there are also rewards.

Ponder said that through Vitalant’s Hero program, she can earn things such as Amazon gift cards.

Vitalant’s Erin McAllister said the company changed its name recently. It used to be United Blood Services, but after the company had acquired some other outfits, they made the decision to change the name.

“We want people to know we’re still doing what we do, just under a different name, so we welcome anybody who would like to give,” McAllister said.

She estimated that about 100 units would be collected in this drive.

“We’ve needed as much as we can get,” McAllister said. “There has been a greater need this year with the weather we’ve had so far and the flu has been more common, too.”

Vitalant is a nonprofit organization formed in 1943. It has roots in many blood centers that were formed in the West at the height of World War II. Today, they have 125 community blood centers and provide blood to more than 1,000 hospitals across 40 states.

The blood drive will continue Thursday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Walk-ins are welcome.

Vitalant will return to Havasu for its next drive July 10 and 11.

Scott Shindledecker can be reached at 928-453-4237 or sshindledecker@havasunews.com.