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Hundreds of people turned out for this week`s blood drive, including 63-year-old Gene Torstenson.
"Stopped and asked if I was eligible to donate blood cause I`ve always been told I couldn`t. I`ve had cancer in the past so they checked out and said yeah you can give so here I am," Torstenson said.
But for 37 years Torstenson thought he couldn`t donate. Numerous blood banks had turned him away, telling him his history of cancer made him ineligible.
"We have so many people who think that they aren`t eligible to donate blood because they`ve had cancer. Well that`s not true depending on the type of cancer and whether they`ve had any reoccurences that can be a huge factor in it," said Amy Beehler, a donor recruitment representative with United Blood Services.
About 350 pints of blood are needed every day in North Dakota, especially type B and type O blood donors.
"Anytime there`s a population increase, you`re gonna see an increase in everything," Beehler said. "Blood is one of those things that most people don`t think of."
Unfortunately the biggest obstacle that prevents people from donating isn`t their health, it`s their fear of needles.
"Three operations of cancer, three operations on my right hand for broken bones, various surgeries throughout my life. It`s just a needle stick. It`s no big deal," Torstenson said.
Like Torstenson, Nicholas Williams is also a first-time blood donor. "Some people need it, you know. I don`t need the blood and donating it`s the best I can do for them," Williams said.
Beehler said, "If every donor we have could donate blood three times a year we would never have a shortage."
Beehler says a drive like this couldn`t have come at a better time to meet the needs of hospitals across the state.
Beehler says United Blood Services will need to collect about 6000 more pints of blood this year than it did last year. For information on how to donate blood, visit www.unitedbloodservices.org