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Businesses Partner in Blood Drive

Thanks to a group of local businesses, Inova Blood Donor Services recently obtained 48 pints of blood. And the idea began with Community Bank Home Mortgage in Chantilly.

"WE'D BEEN doing blood drives at our branch in Sterling for five years," said Rick Hutchison, the company's senior vice president. "Last July we moved over here, and we did our first blood drive [in Chantilly] in the fall. Inova's a great group to work with, there's a tremendous need for blood and it's the right thing to do."

His assistant, Pam Lapato, coordinated another blood drive, April 7, outside their office in the Lafayette Business Park on Pleasant Valley Road, off Route 50. And it was a big success.

"We partnered with Scott MacDonald, principal broker at RE/MAX Gateway Realty, and we developed a T-shirt that says, 'Giving Back to Our Community' on the front and 'One Drop At a Time' on the back," said Hutchison.

Shirts were given to participants and donors, and blood-drive sponsors, plus businesses whose employees donated, got their names on the shirts. Besides Community Bank Home Mortgage and RE/MAX Gateway, other sponsors were Home Buyer Publications, Pohanka Lexus, Inova Blood Donor Services and Burgess & Niple.

And lending a helping hand, as well, was Chantilly High student Matt Dobson, who worked at the drive for seven hours to earn community-service hours toward graduation.

Hutchison's company tries to do four blood drives a year and, he said, "We'd like to grow this into a huge, Lafayette Business Park blood drive with all the Lafayette businesses participating." Inova Blood Donor Services uses the blood for people in both Fairfax and Loudoun counties — wherever it's needed. And Hutchison said the two drives his firm organized have been "two of the most successful blood drives that Inova has had from small businesses."

"Inova told us that small banks and businesses don't usually do this, but Rick's idea of asking other businesses to participate has helped," said Lapato. "And we challenge other small banks to do the same thing — and beat us — because Inova needs the help."

Diane Hill, development officer with Inova Blood Donor Services, was delighted with Community Bank Home Mortgage's spirit of giving. "Rick and Pam were gracious enough to fund the T-shirts, and we appreciate that kind of community support," she said. "And it's an opportunity for businesses to show their good citizenship in giving back to the community."

BUT FOR Hutchison, it was only natural. "I believe you should be giving back," he said. "When you make money and survive in this community, you should support it."

Hill said the critical need for life-giving blood is ongoing. "We need to collect more than 200 units of blood a day to serve the Northern Virginia region," she said. That consists of 15 hospitals, and accounts for more than 90 percent of the blood used here in transfusions. "So when you donate, you're really saving the life of a neighbor, co-worker, relative — or even yourself."

And although the April 7 blood drive yielded 48 pints of blood, Hutchison said it's not even enough to cover a third of the daily demand. "There's no substitute for blood, and it has a short shelf life of 42 days, so the need is constant," explained Hill. "And especially high-need times are during holidays and vacation periods."

Amazingly, she said, "A trauma victim can use up to 30-40 pints in a few hours. One girl who was in a car accident 15 years ago used 110 pints of blood in a weekend — which means 110 strangers saved her life."

Noting that the average person has 10-12 pints of blood, Hill said they can donate one pint and not miss it. Hutchison said Dave Summers, president of Community Bank, has contributed blood every time the company's held a drive — "and that's a huge commitment from the top."

Hutchison said other businesses in other business parks, such as Sullyfield Circle, Avion and Metrotech Drive (Sully Place and Sully Plaza) could get together and hold blood drives, too. "I'd love to have that whole shirt filled up with supporting businesses' names," he said. "And Inova is happy to work with companies to help them put together a blood drive," added Hill. For information, call Brenda Tingen at 1-866-256-6372 or see www.inova.org/donateblood.

"Lots of people know CPR, but what are the chances that you'll use it in your lifetime?" asked Hill. "In one hour with a needle in your arm, you can save up to three people's lives." She said the red blood cells, plasma and platelets are all used and, besides, "Donating makes you feel good."