“We’ve forgotten who we are: explorers, pioneers… not caretakers.” (ex-NASA pilot Joseph Cooper in the film, Interstellar)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Blood Bank of Delmarva’s inaugural U.S. House of Representatives held Friday, September 29 at the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill rallied for a total of 35 donors.

Smiling donor holding up a red sign that reads, "I'm awesome, I donate!"

The walk-ins on Friday were not as numerous the day before at the U.S. Senate Blood Drive, but they still added 11 donors to this blood drive that started with just 24 of 99 appointments filled.

This was an exploratory, pioneering event that BBD Account Manager Bryan Shepherd wanted to try, and Director, Donor Resources Nicole Pineault gave the go ahead, knowing it was a risk but wanting the blood drive to succeed. The dividends paid off as BBD made a great impression in the District of Columbia with our superb customer service and pleasant disposition.

Nicole and Bryan gave a big thanks to U.S. Representative Andy Harris, who represents the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Nicole and Bryan were able to work in association with Congressman Harris to make the House blood drive happen in the District of Columbia. Bryan particularly worked closely with Congressman Harris’ assistant Hannah King for the logistics of the blood drive.

Congressman Harris is a medical doctor.

“As a physician, especially as an operating room physician. I realize the importance of having blood available,” he said. “Not everyone needs in an operation and in their recovery. But, some people do, and when they do it’s lifesaving. So, it’s the ability of someone to help another human being in one of the most important ways they can, by donating blood.”

Blood donor in donation chair with blue sign reading AB+ being cared for by BBD phlebotomist.

In similar fashion on the Senate side, U.S. Senator Tom Carper sponsored a resolution allowing BBD to set up in Senate Hart Building on Thursday, and Senator Carper signed up to donate blood as well!

Given what we learned on both Thursday and Friday, Bryan theorized that holding the blood drives in the future from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. instead of 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. would yield better results. 

“We saw that in that first hour especially, legislative staff are just getting settled in for their busy day on Capitol Hill,“ Bryan said. “It’s also important for us to remain flexible with the walk-ins. We saw people come in that were reluctant to commit to an appointment. But, they were happy to donate blood and do a good deed once their schedule opened up.”

Several congressional staff members expressed an appreciation for making it convenient for them to donate blood at work. 

At the end of the trip, 50 and 35 donors, respectively, was not a bad haul in brand new territory for the Blood Bank of Delmarva. Bryan and Nicole thanked the hardworking Mobile Operations Team led by Director, Donor Services Paige McIlvain, Manger Donor Collections-Mobile Vivian Powell and Supervisor, Fleet Paul Kuloszewksi and staffed by Supervisors Madeline Hernandez and Jackeline Rivera, Bloodmobile Driver John Toll and Blood Collection Techs Lexi Moore, Mariana Santana-Ruiz, An’Nae Bailey, Toni Ruggiero, Brioyonni Brown, Bella Davenport, Morgan Cassady and Austin Celuska, Bryan and Nicole also thanked Community Relations and Volunteer Coordinator Angela Williamson and Communications Specialist Tony Prado for helping Bryan to recruit donors up and down the halls the Congress.

In addition, we may have had more donors had it not been for U.S. Congress deliberating on the budget and trying to avert a federal government shutdown that would affect many federal employees. Were it not for the busy deliberations, Bryan believed we could have seen 30 more donors over the course of our two-day trip to Washington, D.C.

But, the bottom line is that we left D.C. with 85 units more than when we started the trip.

“We remembered how to be pioneers in this trip,” Nicole said. “Onward and upward!”

For those wondering if we should go back to Washington, D.C., consider this. We brought down the average age of our donors with this two-day trip. The overwhelming majority of donors were in the 18-24 and 25-35 age categories, as illustrated by the graphic below and in the faces of our donors pictured in this article. (Special thanks to NYBCe Executive Director – Market Insights Lauren Hinz for her assistance in tapping into donor demographic data in the District of Columbia.)

Click here and here to access photos.