United Blood Services hopes to bring in 500 donors in Tempe blood drive

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(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)

One of the most important times of the year for the United Blood Services is the beginning of the year.

"Our donations usually drop to low levels and it's this time of the year when people are going in for surgeries," said Sue Thew, public relations coordinator for United Blood Services (UBS). 

Sunday's donation drive at the Tempe Center for the Arts marks the ninth year UBS hosts this event. The goal is to bring in at least 500 donors through the center's doors as that is the number of daily donors that are needed to keep up with the Valley's demands for blood transfusions. 

[READ MORE: United Blood Services asking for blood donations]

"To people who are constantly donating blood I say thank you so much, your blood helps save lives like mine and for people who are nervous about donating, it's not that hard, you can probably come do during your lunch break," said 17 year-old Hayley Elliot.

Elliot, Pinnacle High School senior, has a rare blood disease called Diamond Blackfan Anemia. She's one of about 700 people worldwide to suffer from the life-threatening disease. The person's bone marrow fails to produce red blood cells thus needing a blood transfusion every 3 to 4 weeks.

"I had to have blood transfusions every 3 to 4 weeks for 7 years of my life until my brother was able to give me a bone marrow transplant," Elliot said. 

She hasn't stopped participating in blood drives like the one held on Sunday. In fact, she's very vocal about her thankfulness to those generous donors who helped keep her alive until a bone marrow transplant was possible. 

"I'm now healthy," Elliot said.

United Blood Services wants to stress to the general public that the need for blood comes usually unexpectedly and that the ability to donate is only a click away.

[RELATED: Queen Creek teen wins car for donating blood]

"Tragedy strikes without a moments notice. You never know when you are going to find yourself or a loved one in need of a transfusion. That's why it's important to donate ahead of time so that it is there when people arrive at the the hospital," Thew said.

For more information about blood donation centers and available times you can visit www.UnitedBloodServicesAZ.org.

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