Monday, January 14, 2013

Blood Donor Center Moving On Up

Mike Haddad with his daughter Ellie, 3.

If your New Year’s resolution is to donate blood at Massachusetts General Hospital this year, you will need to visit to a new location. In March, the Mass General Blood Donor Center will temporarily move from the Gray lobby to the 12th floor of the White building. The move will facilitate the renovation of the existing donor center, which will include a modern redesign with a more open floor plan.

Mass General Blood Donor Center staff is eager to spread the word about their temporary relocation to make this temporary transition as smooth and seamless for their loyal blood donors as possible.  For Mike Haddad of Wilmington, donating blood played a vital role in saving his daughter’s life, and the blood center’s move won’t deter him – he has been donating platelets 24 times a year for the past three years.

Born after an emergency c-section in Mount Auburn, Haddad’s daughter Ellie was rushed to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at MassGeneral Hospital for Children (MGHfC) because the umbilical cord was wrapped five times around her neck, causing severe meconium aspiration. Over the course of nine days, Ellie received several blood and platelet transfusions, including donations from her father.

“We couldn’t be told with any certainty whether she was going to live,” Haddad says.

After a dramatic turnaround, surgeons cleared the meconium from her lungs and Ellie was released from the NICU after 67 days. It was during this time that Haddad was inspired to become a loyal donor in honor of his daughter, who is now three years old and thriving.

“I was just so thankful that Ellie was saved by the people at Mass General that I made a little pact with myself that I was going to become a regular donor as a way to say thank you,” Haddad says. “It’s a small price to pay for my daughter’s life.”

Haddad, a familiar face to the Mass General Blood Donor Center staff, has donated platelets 24 times a year (which is the maximum number of platelet donations a person can make in a 12-month span) for the past three years. He discovered he was a good candidate for platelet donation when Ellie was in the NICU after learning more information about the process. Donating blood is easier than many people think, says Meredith Wentworth of the Mass General Blood Donor Center.

“We are always trying to encourage employees to become blood donors,” Wentworth, says. “It is a quick and easy way to help the patients that we treat here at Mass General on a day to day basis.”

For first time blood donors, the whole process takes about a half hour. Donors sign in, fill out a health history questionnaire and proceed to a health history interview. During the health history, similar to a mini physical, the donor’s vitals and iron levels are checked to  determine their eligibility to donate. If donors meet the physical requirements, they will proceed to the donation room. Donating blood takes five to 10 minutes, and donors are encouraged to enjoy refreshments and snacks before leaving. Donating platelets follows a similar structure, but the donating process takes about two hours.

Mass General employees are given an hour off during the work day to donate blood, at their supervisor’s discretion. For the platelet donors whose donation process takes approximately two hours, the donor center offers e-chairs hooked up to partners work stations, as well as flat screen tvs and free wi-fi.

The Mass General Blood Donor Center also encourages staff and families to participate in their promotions and events, ranging from t-shirt giveaways, and lift ticket raffles to food tastings. For more information about the Mass General Blood Donor Center promotions, visit

“We’re looking to our employee base to help us maintain a safe and adequate blood supply for our patients during our renovation,” Wentworth says.

This month, in honor of national blood donor month, all donors will be entered to win a pair of ski and snowboard lift tickets, and will also receive a free Mass General Blood Donor Center logo ice scraper mitten. For more information or to make an appointment, call 617-726-8177.

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