Blood drive serves dual purpose

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By Jennifer Garcia

Gurneys and blood-pumping machines filled half the hall of Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church Wednesday afternoon. People sat patiently on the metal chairs waiting for their turn to donate blood for the quarterly United Blood Services blood drive.


For some donors, giving blood was just another routine act of good will. But for others, this blood drive was a little bit different. This time around, donors could give blood for a fellow Los Alamos resident.


Former County Councilor Jim West is currently receiving treatment for a serious medical condition in Houston. He has had to have blood transfusions as part of his treatment and may need to have more in the future.


In an effort to help West, people can go to the drive and mention that they would like to donate for him. In return, he will get credit for all blood donated for him here at the hospital in Houston.


Jill Hanson, a Los Alamos resident and real estate agent with Real Estate Associates PBW, has been donating blood at Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church for the past 32 years. Wednesday was a little bit different for Hanson as she showed up for her routine donation; she found out that donations were being taken for West and didn’t hesitate to sign up.


“He’s a client and a friend. He’s given so much to the community, it’s nice to give something back,” she said. Hanson said she donates blood three to four times a year. “Every little bit helps … sometimes it takes a community,” she said in regard to helping West.


Los Alamos County Police Det. Shari Mills also donated in West’s name, but this was no routine act for her. Mills donated blood for the first time on Wednesday. “I had a transfusion 15 years ago and had always wanted to donate,” she said. “I wanted to be able to pay it back somehow. The fact that this is a good cause is what encouraged me.”


There has been some speculation in the community as to what sort of treatment West is receiving, however, no one is certain. Out of respect and confidentiality, no one has said exactly what sort of illness he is battling. However, Councilor Mike Wismer said that over this past weekend, he exchanged voicemails with West.


“His voice was a little weak as he described the effects of his current treatment regimen. The tone and inflection in his voice switched considerably when he mentioned the efforts of the people of Los Alamos who were donating blood to help him,” Wismer said.


“His voice reverted to that old cowboy spirit we have come to appreciate from him as he spoke of how our efforts have lifted his spirits. Our thoughts and prayers are with Jim West and we wish him well.”


Wismer also said that he encourages all in the community to donate blood in West’s name.


Donor Care Supervisor Roxanne Jones said that approximately 108 people had gone into IHMCC to donate blood on Wednesday, although she was unsure of how many people had donated in West’s name.


She did say that she and other UBS staff members had been busier because they were taking donations for West. She also stressed that UBS has a huge need for type O blood.


“We need O positive, O negative and we also need AB plasma, bad,” she commented. Jones said that it’s relatively easy to donate blood or plasma. All it takes is a picture ID.


“We connect you to a machine and it takes about 30 minutes to an hour,” she commented.


The last day to donate is Friday and donations will be accepted until 4 p.m. at IHMCC.