Area departments battle for blood donors
BY JANE MICHAELS
Donating blood was something Kevin Simpson had been putting off indefinitely.
"But when my mom had surgery in April, which required additional blood, that put it all in perspective," said the deputy chief of the Hinsdale Police Department. "It's the fact of realizing how much I can help others."
As a bonus, the first-time donor could help win bragging rights and a pizza celebration for his fellow officers in a contest sponsored by Adventist Hinsdale Hospital.
Adventist Lab Partners, a hospital department coordinating blood donations, is spearheading Battle of the Badges, a friendly competition in its fourth year among area police and fire departments.
Participants include members of the Hinsdale, LaGrange Park and Willowbrook police and fire departments, as well as the Oak Brook Fire Department and the La Grange Police Department.
As of Monday, the Hinsdale Fire Department had a slight edge in the contest, prompting a smile from the man donating blood in the chair next to Simpson.
Mike Kelly, deputy chief of the Hinsdale Fire Department, said recruiting the most donors would give his agency a clean sweep of the last three contests with the police department. The other two victories were in softball games.
"People have a lot of things going on this time of year," Kelly said. "I find if I talk to people and get them to commit to a time and day, hopefully we'll get more people signed up."
La Grange, Willowbrook or Oak Brook departments could come from behind, however, with the pivotal role played by walk-ins. Any donor may vote for his favorite participating department by earmarking his pint toward that agency's tally.
Janice Rosacrans, donor recruiter for the blood bank, said August was selected for the contest because as summer wanes, shortages reach critical levels. Vacations and competing activities disrupt the routines of regular and occasional donors.
The hospital's blood bank is low on blood types O positive and negative, so workers contacted regular donors, Rosacrans said.
"When we tell people there's a critical shortage, they come in," Rosacrans said. "We tell them to bring their husbands and their brothers too."
Hospital officials have extended the deadline to participate in the contest from Aug. 31 until Sept. 15 to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11 tragedy and the service of emergency personnel.
Blood donated to the hospital's blood bank remains within the community for use by local hospital patients. At other area blood banks, donations sometimes are used in other parts of the country, rather than in the area where it was given, Rosacrans said.
For more information, call (630) 856-7070 to schedule an appointment at the center, 121 N. Elm St., Hinsdale.