13 gallons of blood... and counting!

By Joyce Rowley | Jan 25, 2012

Southcoast Blood Bank recently thanked its 35 donors who have donated gallons of blood. Among them was West Wareham’s Alice Tremblay-Frates, who has been donating blood for so long, she can’t remember when she started. But she knows why: it’s her “hero” thing.

“There’s not many things that I can do, I have no great talents, so this is what I do,” said Tremblay-Frates. She said she just keeps going to the Southcoast Blood Bank at St. Luke’s, where she started. She’s even a kind of blood donation “groupie,” going to the bloodmobile when it’s around. And this steady habit has added up to 13 gallons of blood—or 104 pints.

Cathy Alegria, Donor Program Coordinator at Southcoast Blood Bank, said the earliest donation on record for Tremblay-Frates is 1992—twenty years ago. She may have been donating earlier than that because the hospital records were not in electronic format. Alegria said donors can give blood every 8 weeks, or six times a year.

“All of the blood donated to the Southcoast Hospitals Group Blood Bank stays local and is used within our hospitals and cancer centers only,” said Alegria. “The blood donated may be transfused as whole blood to help someone who has had severe blood loss.”

She said it may also be separated into smaller components for specific purposes such as red blood cells for surgical and trauma patients, as well as people with anemia, such as dialysis patients. Plasma can be used to treat victims of burn, shock, or dehydration. Platelets can be used to help treat leukemia patients and cancer patients who are undergoing chemotherapy.

Tremblay-Frates wants to let people know there’s nothing to it. “It doesn’t take anything away from you,” she says. “So many people are afraid [to give blood] and it doesn’t hurt.”

Wareham resident Judith Noonan was also recognized for donating two gallons of blood. She could not be reached for comment.

The Southcoast Blood Bank is located at St. Luke’s Hospital, 101 Page Street, New Bedford, off the main lobby. Walk-ins are welcome Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Wednesdays 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., and Saturdays from 8 to 2:30 p.m. For more information or to make an appointment, call 508-961-5320. More information is available online at www.southcoast.org/bloodbank.

Southcoast hosts blood drives throughout the region on the Southcoast Health Van and at local businesses. The schedule can be found online at www.southcoast.org/van or by calling 508-961-5320.

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