Bill urges blood donation

By Marcia Harris

Beginning January 2006, workers in Illinois will receive paid leave from work for donating blood. The Employee Blood Donation Leave Act is the first major step Governor Rod Blagojevich has taken to encourage blood donation and replenish the state supply.

According to Bill 324, local government and some private sector employees will be allowed an hour of paid leave to donate every 56 days, given their employer’s approval. Brandon Feller, former Government Relations Officer for the Illinois American Red Cross, was involved in the legislation of the bill.

“Blood donation is so important because only five percent of eligible donors actually donate. We were looking for ways to make blood donation easy and convenient,” Feller said.

Many are hoping the passage of the Employee Blood Donation Leave Act will encourage potential donors of all ages. Tammy Basile, University alum and spokesperson for LifeSourse, Chicagoland’s Blood Center, hopes the bill will increase awareness of the need to donate.

“Many people don’t realize there’s a great need. Every 25 seconds someone needs blood. The summer is especially important. College students make up 15 percent of donors but that number goes down when they return home for the summer months,” Basile said.

Basile added that it is easy for anyone, including college students, to get involved.

“By calling Lifesource you can set up a date and time and we’ll provide everything you need at no cost. You know, you never know when something will happen to you. By one person donating, they are helping, not just to save three other lives, but they are helping their neighbors and friends as well. I consider blood donors anonymous heroes. They all deserve a big thank you,” Basile said.

The Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center is another organization that stands to benefit from the passage of Bill 324. Vice-President of Communications and Development Jenny Garner is very optimistic.

“We are surprised and delighted with the support of the legislature and that it extends the ability to private employees to donate blood,” Garner said.

Garner thinks the lack of donors could be due to misinformation.

“People might think, with today’s technology, the need is less. However, usage is up significantly during the summer and holidays, and people are the only source. It would be great for the twenty-somethings out there who understand it’s important to motivate their friends to donate as well.”