Get Ready for the UMMC Blood Drive, July 26–28!

By Maggie Gill, System Communications Intern

Now is the time to give, says the American Red Cross. On July 5, the not-for-profit organization issued an emergency call for blood and platelets. The request comes on the heels of a particularly slow donation season, when the available supply fell 39,000 donations short of hospital need – a trend that is expected to continue in the following weeks, as regular donors flock to the beaches and mountains for the summer holidays. Unfortunately for the five million Americans who rely on transfusions each year, a vacation is a luxury that they can’t afford.

“We urge people to give now to help hospital patients who depend on blood and platelets being available when they need it,” said Chris Hrouda, executive vice president of the Red Cross Biomedical Services, in a press release. “Summer is one of the most challenging seasons to collect enough blood, but patients need blood no matter what time of the year it is.”

Making up the deficit will require the participation of first-time donors, especially. But often, it’s these individuals who are the most hesitant to roll up their sleeves. One survey found that the top reason that would-be donors decline to give is a fear of needles. The Red Cross recommends that needle-phobes focus on the difference that their gift will make: a single pint of blood – the amount that’s typically collected in a draw – can save the lives of up to three other people. If you count yourself among the ten percent of the population that experiences fear around needles, it may also help to know what to expect on donation day. Here’s a summary of the simple, four step process.

  1. Registration. When you arrive at the blood drive, you’ll see a registration table staffed by a Red Cross employee or volunteer, who will sign you in and review the eligibility guidelines and donation information with you. Be prepared to show your donor card, driver’s license or other form of identification.
  2. Health History and Mini-Physical. This includes a private, confidential interview with a second Red Cross employee or volunteer about your health and travel history. Afterward, he or she will take your temperature, pulse and blood pressure, and prick your finger for a hemoglobin sample.
  3. Donation. Although you can expect your visit to take about an hour, the blood draw itself only lasts eight to ten minutes. The Red Cross attendant will clean a site on your arm with an alcohol swab and insert a brand-new, sterile needle into the vein. During this time, you can read, listen to music or talk with a friend. After the draw is complete, the attendant will remove the needle and cover the site with a bandage.
  4. Refreshments. In the refreshments area, you can enjoy complimentary cookies and apple juice – and the satisfaction of knowing that you’ve made a difference in the lives of others!

You can read more about what to expect Red Cross’ website.

If you’re a first-time donor, or if you haven’t donated in a while, take a minute to familiarize yourself with the eligibility guidelines. As of May, male blood and platelet donors must have a minimum hemoglobin level of 13.0 g/dL – an increase from the previous 12.5 g/dL. (For females, the minimum acceptable level is still 12.5 g/dL.) Hemoglobin is the protein in red blood cells that’s responsible for carrying oxygen from the lungs to the tissues in the rest of the body. The Red Cross tests all prospective donors’ hemoglobin levels as part of the mini-physical, to ensure that they’re able to give safely; individuals who don’t meet the requirement are invited to come back later, once they’ve raised their levels.

Hemoglobin-IronLevels-Flyer-FINAL (4)

Are you ready to save a life (or three)? University of Maryland Medical Center’s next blood drive will take place in the Gudelsky Hallway on:

  • Tuesday, July 26 (8 am – 8 pm)
  • Wednesday, July 27 (8 am – 8 pm)
  • Thursday, July 28 (7 am – 7 pm)

Donors receive a $5-coupon valid at all UMMC vendors and will be entered in a drawing for two tickets to an upcoming Orioles game.

Walk-ins are welcome, but should be advised that appointments are honored first. Click here to schedule yours today! To save even more time at the donation site, you can also print or download a RapidPass, which allows you to read the education materials and answer the health history questions before your appointment, in the comfort of your home.

Blood Drive Experience

By: Michelle Logan, Editorial Intern

May 29, marked the first day of my communications internship at the University of Maryland Medical Center. I had come home from my junior year at college with a resume crammed with journalistic experience and I felt ready to handle anything. Before my first day, I familiarized myself with the hospital’s target audience, I studied its social media pages and websites, I practiced numerous interviews and writing styles, I lined my closet with business casual attire — I felt fully equipped to talk the UMMC talk and walk the UMMC walk. However, nothing could have prepared me for an email the night before from my internship mentor: “You’ll be helping at the Red Cross blood drive in Gudelsky lobby of the main hospital, see you there!”

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The first thought in my muddled head was “I didn’t sign up for this.” I had heard about blood drives at local events and grabbed my arm in illusory pain — I had been terrified of needles since the first time I received a booster shot and furiously threw my Cinderella Band-Aid at the doctor. The thought of simply being close to needles made my fingers quiver as I typed back, “Sounds great!” to my mentor and pressed “send.”

The morning of May 29 arrived, and I took deep breaths as I sat at a registration table to greet those giving blood. I faced away from the blood drive area, my thoughts calming down, and instead enjoyed conversing with those signing up. One UMMC doctor informed me it was his tenth time donating, while another explained how her husband and daughter donated with her every time. The stories I heard were enlightening, but none as impactful as a community member who walked in to see what the big event was.

“What’s this?” he asked as he peered down at a flyer that read, “Every 2 seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood.”  He looked back up at me and exclaimed, “That’s a lot of people! Let’s give this a shot.” Spur of the moment, this man decided to donate blood. As he wrote his name on the sign-up sheet, I turned around and really took in my surroundings. I suddenly remembered my mom telling me how much blood she had lost while in the delivery room with my twin sister and me, and the needles behind me started to look less scary. In fact, they started to look like an opportunity to help a lot of people. I decided to give it a shot.

The weeks went by, but on June 16, I prepared for my internship a bit differently. I double-checked the appointment that I scheduled online. I ate a large iron-rich breakfast, and gulped down as much water as I could. I put on a comfortable shirt, packed my I.D., yelled at the butterflies in my stomach to calm down, and shaped my shuddering body into a confident stance as I marched out the door.

I once again walked into the Gudelsky lobby and to the registration table, but this time, I was on the other side. This time, I confirmed my online appointment and received a sticker, a number, and facts about donating. I then sat down with my sixth water bottle of the day in hand. When “73” was called, I looked at my number card and twitched. This was it.

Michelle L blood driveA woman in blue scrubs led me into a small cubicle, where I answered questions about my health, travel history and medications.  Then I had my temperature, blood pressure and pulse taken. I felt a sharp pinch and a squeeze as the woman pricked my finger to test my iron level, but she placed a bandage on it and I managed to not throw it this time.

Finally, the moment I agonized over was here, but it was far easier than I imagined. Another woman beckoned me out of my cubicle with a “hey girl, you ready?” and my shoulders began to relax as I followed a humming doctor to a reclining chair. As she brought me more water and took my arm, I looked around. To the right of me another doctor was telling a man about a video she watched online. Across from me a woman was squeezing her hand softly while reading a book. Though my doctor was preparing for the donation, she was telling me stories and asking questions. She kept me distracted, and I felt my stress slip away.

I only had two seconds of pain and eight minutes of arm pumping, but then it was over, and I was going to help up to three people. As the doctor placed a bandage around my arm I realized that I am always going to be afraid of needles. But if it means giving someone the gift of life, I am willing to tackle my fears.


The next UMMC blood drive is July 28-29 from 8 am-8 pm, and July 30 from 7 am-7 pm, in the Gudelsky lobby of the main hospital. Schedule your appointment today for July 28, July 29 or July 30.

If you have problems making an appointment, please email Katey Leiter at with the time you want to give, and she will make the appointment for you.

All donors receive a $5 gift card good at any UMMC eatery, and will be entered into a drawing to win two tickets to an upcoming Orioles game.

Shock Trauma Survivor Stresses Need for Blood Donations, Holds Blood Drive

The last thing Katie Pohler remembers from June 28 is pedaling her bike down Route 450 South in the bike lane, heading to the Waterfront in Annapolis with her boyfriend. But then, it all goes black.

Katie and her boyfriend, Todd Green, were both hit from behind by an impaired driver, and had to be flown to the R Adams Crowley Shock Trauma Center.

While Todd was released that night, Katie spent nearly three weeks in Shock Trauma, undergoing multiple surgeries and recovering from her extensive list of injures. She broke her left leg and arm, and her right hand, collarbone and shoulder, and her trachea was crushed, among other injuries.

During her stay in Shock Trauma, Katie, 23, received multiple blood transfusions while fighting for her life, which is why her friends and family have decided to organize a blood drive in her honor.


“Having had a transfusion, I understand the importance of donating blood to save lives. I am going to give blood any chance I get,” Katie says.

Coming up with the idea for the drive was Katie’s neighbor and family friend, Candy McCann Fontz. Fontz, who has hosted blood drives before, felt this was a perfect way to support the family during such a trying time and help others.

“I know the power of what my donation does because I have seen it,” Fontz says of why blood drives are so important.

When Fontz brought the idea up to Katie and her family, it was unanimous that this was a perfect way to honor Katie’s recovery.

“I feel wonderful about doing this blood drive because I want to give back. Everybody helped Katie and so I want to be able to help others.” Donna Pohler, Katie’s mother, says.

The blood drive will be held from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Nov. 15 at the Glen Burnie Improvement Association, located at 19 S. Crain Highway, Glen Burnie. To schedule an appointment, head to and enter sponsor code GBIA.

“It’s about giving back and educating people on why it is important to donate,” Donna says.

According to the American Red Cross, every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood and more than 41,000 blood donations are required every day. The need for blood can be for emergency cases or for patients with conditions that require multiple transfusions, such as cancer patients going through chemotherapy or patients diagnosed with sickle cell disease.

Katie is currently going to physical therapy three times a week, and getting stronger every day. Her recovery process will be a long road, and some injuries will have more lasting effects than others.

“I just had vocal cord surgery and my voice is a lot different from what it used to be, but I am just thankful to have a voice at all,” Katie says.

Katie’s stay at Shock Trauma saved her life, and she says she is grateful to all the doctors and nurses who helped aid in her recovery, and to those who have taken the time to donate blood.

“I just can’t stress it enough how important it is to give blood,” Katie says. “You never expect that one day you are going to be in that situation where you need it.”

For more information on the blood drive, head online to the event’s Facebook page set up or call the Red Cross directly at 1-800-733-2767 to set up an appointment.