Blood drive part of a long, proud tradition |

Blood drive part of a long, proud tradition

Emily Aughinbaugh

Got blood?

Well, the Barton Memorial Hospital Auxiliary wants it .

Monday marks the first of six drives auxiliary volunteers will sponsor this year. The auxiliary has been hosting the blood drive for 36 years, and South Lake Tahoe resident Pat Amundson has coordinated the effort every step of the way.

“I’ll volunteer until I croak or they throw me out,” Amundson said with a chuckle.

The Sacramento Medical Foundation draws the blood, which goes into a bank that services Northern California.

Amundson said the Sacramento blood bank only missed its appointments three times over the blood drive’s more than three decades at Tahoe- due to mud slides, the Cleveland fire and inclement weather that shut down U.S. Highway 50.

Amundson said the South Lake Tahoe community has given more than 21,000 units, providing blood for 63,000 people.

“Every person in Tahoe has essentially been touched three times,” she said. “Every year more blood is donated in the community than the community even uses.”

Dan Kerr, president of the auxiliary, said although the schools have done occasional blood drives in the past, the auxiliary’s drive is really the only easy way people can come and donate.

“The auxiliary’s community blood drive is really the big thing,” Kerr said. “This is really your only opportunity to give.”

Amundson said the same group of people tend to support the blood drive in South Lake Tahoe, but she encourages others to give.

“This community really is a generous community, but there seems to be a nucleus of people who give,” Amundson said. “People are in fear to donate because they think they’re going to get something.”

Amundson said all needles are sterilized and prepackaged, and all donated blood is tested for HIV antibodies, hepatitis and syphilis. If blood is infected with any of the diseases, it’s destroyed and the donor is sent a letter.

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