Giving the gift of life

Laboratory employees step up to donate blood

By David Moore | March 8, 2023

Blood Drive Opt

Every two seconds someone in the U.S. receives a blood transfusion, and the life-saving gift of blood is often in short supply. Which is why the Laboratory helps its employees to step up and contribute to filling the gap.

In the last fiscal year (which ran Oct. 2021 to Sept. 2022) the Laboratory organized 17 blood drives, with 658 employee donors giving 771 units of blood — enough to save 2517 lives.

In conjunction with blood donation partner Vitalant, the Laboratory's Community Partnerships Office organizes the employee-only drives to be convenient for workers to take a short break during their day for their appointment.

“Laboratory employees give back to the community in many ways, but blood donation is special,” says Kayla Norris, who organizes the drives. “You have an immediate impact by knowing that the one pint of blood you donated, could potentially save up to three lives.” 

Most of the drives currently take place on site at the Laboratory at the Otowi cafeteria, but with more Laboratory employees working from home or in offices in Santa Fe, drives have also been offered in Española and Santa Fe.

Veterans and new recruits

All sorts of employees volunteer to donate. Jeff Abes with the Weapons program has made over 50 blood donations, and is clear on his motivations.

“I started to give blood before I started working at the Lab. The possibility of saving lives appealed to me, and I still find meaning in being a blood donor,” he says.

Other donors, like IT manager Moses Gallegos have only recently started donating.

“The process was quick, taking about 45 minutes from start to finish,” he said. “It’s just like a blood draw for your regular doctor visit,” he says.

“I plan to continue to donate in the future. One of the most rewarding things was that I received a letter in the mail stating that my blood was on its way to be used for someone.”

Only employees can schedule slots at the Laboratory-organized drives, but Vitalant host a range of drives across New Mexico and beyond that are open to the public.