Hockey is a rough sport, so it’s common to see a little blood now and then, but it’s usually from the players, not the fans. Not the case at HP Pavilion, when the San Jose Sharks teamed up with Stanford Blood Center to play hosts to a blood drive prior to the home game on Jan. 20 vs. St. Louis.
“We’ve wanted to do this for sometime so we’re very proud to partner with Stanford and save lives of those in the Bay Area,” said Rob Jaynes, director of fan development and The Sharks Foundation.
The event was by appointment only and in the week prior, more than 100 Sharks fans signed up to donate, potentially saving more than 300 lives. Typically, each donated unit of blood, referred to as “whole blood,” is separated into multiple components, such as red blood cells, plasma and platelets. Each component is then transfused to a different individual with different needs.
“In the Bay Area, only about two percent of eligible donors actually donate so we’re always in a constant need for blood,” said Elisa Manzanares of Stanford Blood Center. “By working with the Sharks, we not only have the chance to collect blood but also to reach new donors and inform more people of the need to donate.”
Stanford Blood Center was not disappointed. Of those that donated, 40 were first-time donors, many unaware of how frequently blood is needed. However, some in attendance were already keenly aware of the need and for them, the drive had special meaning.
“Our son was diagnosed with Leukemia and he required many platelet and red blood cell transfusions, so we understand the importance of today,” said Susan Richter, whose son was treated at Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital, one of the locations supplied by Stanford Blood Center. “We just want people to know that you absolutely can save lives and there are definitely people out there who need it.”
To thank them for their contributions, each donor was invited to watch both the San Jose and St. Louis morning skates, which are usually closed to the public. They were also entered into a drawing to win autographed Sharks merchandise, which ranged from pucks to replica jerseys and even a stick signed by members of the team.
Sharks Captain Patrick Marleau
, Vesa Toskala, Mark Smith, Curtis Brown and many other players even came to the donation area after practice to personally thank everyone for their time.
“I was a little nervous but it didn’t hurt and it was actually really quick and easy,” said Julie Fultz, a first-time donor. “I was actually more excited and anxious about being here at the Shark Tank and getting to see some of the players!”
Though the drive happened that weekend, Stanford Blood Center reported that by Monday, 15 patients had already put the donated units to good use. The patients ranged from a nine-year-old liver transplant to a 23-year-old kidney donor to a 79-year-old patient undergoing gastric surgery.
“Being able to help these people is a phenomenal feeling and I hope we’ll be able to do it again soon,” said Jaynes.
About The Stanford Blood Center
Stanford Blood Center is a private, nonprofit community agency that was established in 1978. It now has three donation sites located in Palo Alto and Mountain View. Each year, it supplies more than 35,000 pints of blood and blood components to help an estimated 105,000 patients.