February 15, 2019

EATON, Ohio - The Delta Theta Tau service sorority has been hosting blood drives at the Church of the Visitation for 25 years.  The Feb. 14 blood drive came on St. Valentine's Day and proved to be an ideal way to celebrate service to the community and helping save lives.

"It's one of our commitments to the community," said Sharon Spitler who is the blood drive coordinator and president of the sorority's Theta Mu chapter. Sharon retired in 2015 after 38 years as Community Blood Center's account representative for Preble County.

The sorority raises money for annual projects that include a college scholarship fund and the Preble County Christmas for Kids.  Sharon said the annual blood drive is their busiest event. Their hard work resulted in 85 whole blood donors and 72 whole blood donations, plus 13 platelet and plasma donations, for 103 percent of the collection goal.

The Church of the Visitation blood drive has traditionally included machines for platelet and plasma donations.  CBC's goal in 2019 is to recruit new platelet and plasma donors and provide more opportunity for these donations at community blood drives.

Eaton donor John Wright wore a bright red St. Valentine's Day t-shirt from his collection of CBC t-shirts as he gave platelets for his 184th lifetime donation Thursday.  John commonly donated whole blood six times a year at Preble County blood drives.  He started donating platelets three years ago.

"I feel like there's a need for platelets right now," said John. Platelets and plasma are vital for the treatment of cancer, trauma, organ transplant, and burn patients.

"It's something I can do," John said. "For the most part, I'll probably never know the people that are helped from it.  One day it could be me."

St. Valentine's Day was a milestone day for Richmond donor Bill Pendley.   It was his first visit to the Church of the Visitation blood drive and his first time donating plasma.

"I've given blood before, but have never given plasma," said Bill, who regularly donates whole blood at the Seton Catholic High School blood drives.  "They called me a couple days ago and asked if I could donate plasma and I said 'yes!'"

It was an impactful decision because Bill's blood type is both rare and the perfect type for plasma donations.  Less than one percent of the population is AB negative, and AB negative is the "universal donor" for plasma, meaning any patient in need can receive it.

Bill's wife Marcia sat at Bill's side as he donated and CBC phlebotomist Sarah Spears explained the procedure.  Bill said he didn't hesitate, even though it was unfamiliar. "Not really!" he said, "But they said they needed it!"