San Diego Blood Bank Draws Blood to Save Lives

Donnell Lu (L) of Imperial, and Louie Martinez (R) of Brawley donate blood during blood drive.

BRAWLEY — San Diego Blood Bank mobile came to town Tuesday, drawing blood “for patients whose lives depend on it,” said Jonathan Sanchez.  Sanchez is a Calexico native, now a full-time phlebotomist working in San Diego for the San Diego Blood Bank.

The mobile Blood Bank was parked in the Women’s Center Parking Lot of Pioneers Memorial Hospital from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m., a place they occupy every three months, Sanchez said.

The mobile Blood Bank is staffed by licensed phlebotomists and Registered Nurses, along with a driver.

“We have been coming here for a long time, over 10 years,” Sanchez said.  “We come every three months here to Pioneers, and welcome anyone at all who wants to donate blood.”

The Blood Bank frequents the Imperial Valley, traveling mostly to schools, from Calexico High School, to Southwest, Calipatria, and Brawley High schools.  

Tuesday’s blood drive saw a little over 20 people, a low average for the mobile blood bank, Sanchez said.  Typically in the Imperial Valley, the blood bank sees around 30 to 40 donors a day with their normal drives.

The average age range for Valley blood donors is anywhere from 30 on up, for both men and women, however Sanchez said they would like to see more youth participating.”

Donnell Washington, 34, donated blood during Tuesday’s drive, something he has been doing “on and off” over the years.  

“It doesn’t hurt to help,” Washington said.  “I’m involved with a lot with kids, so if I can lead by example, and do something, maybe they’d like to do, that’d be great,” he said.

An avid coach for Little League, basketball, football, wrestling, and more, Washington first began donating blood in Calipat, where he works as a corrections officer.

“They’ve gone out to Calipat before,” he said.  “This is my third time donating here at the hospital.  Now I just pay attention to my emails for when they’re going to come again.”

“Donating blood allows people in need of blood to survive,” Sanchez said.  “It helps families who are waiting for that transplant, to live another day.  It helps people live and survive.  That’s why it’s important today,” Sanchez said.

The Blood Bank is active in San Diego county, traveling all over the city, from big companies, to high schools, to colleges, and other professional locations.  The Blood Bank also has multiple donor centers.  

“There is no difference in working at a mobile blood bank or a donor center,” said Sanchez.  “The difference is the machines.”  

“Donor centers generally have different machinery, which allows donors to give plasma as well as blood platelets, along with double red cells and donating blood” Sanchez said.  “The mobile blood bank is able to take blood and double red cells, but not platelets or plasma,” he said.
The Blood Bank will next be parked at Brawley Union High School on Thursday, January 28th.  It will be an open drive, meaning any and all interested people over 15 years old are welcome to donate.