Blood donors turn out in droves in Cape

Thursday, September 13, 2001

Watching her own blood flow into the plastic bag next to her, 19-year-old Angela Bartlett said she was doing the only thing she could think of to help people devastated by loss caused by terrorists' acts on the East Coast Tuesday.

Bartlett was one of more than 1,000 Southeast Missourians who poured into the Osage Community Centre Wednesday to donate blood, overwhelming volunteers for the American Red Cross and forcing them to close their doors early.

David Palmer, blood drive coordinator, said every volunteer available from Cape Girardeau to Carbondale, Ill., helped at the blood drive, but the number of donors was staggering.

At noon, when the drive was scheduled to begin, 195 people were in line. By 12:30, 325 people had arrived. That's how many usually donate in an 8-hour shift for a successful blood drive, Palmer said.

Despite warnings of a three- to four-hour wait, they kept coming.

Randy Newell, who works at the Lone Star cement plant is a regular blood donor, and his donor card indicates he's given some five gallons over the past few years.

This time, his motivation was personal. His son, Jeremy, is a Marine stationed at Cherry Point, N.C.

He said he talked to his son Tuesday night.

"They're all on high alert and carrying weapons," Newell said.

Crystal Herzog and her mother, Brenda Glenn, had similar impetus. A family member in the Naval reserves had been called to duty.

Herzog was one of many who were donating blood for the first time.

"Yesterday if you asked my why I'm here, I would have said I just wanted to help out. Today, I'm doing it for my brother," Herzog said.

Common interest

People seemed to be good-natured about the wait and chatted with the people next to them. The tragedy had given everyone a common point of interest, and many described where they were and what they were doing when they first heard the news.

On different sides of Cape Girardeau, Jamila Dorris, 22, and Rowedy Enderly, 29, both woke up to the news on the radio. William Grebing, 30, of Jackson said he was walking out the door when he heard the news on television.

Eric McIntire, 22, was at work at the Wilson Way Cemetery when his mom called to tell him. His uncle works in New York, and the explosion blew out his windows two blocks away from the scene of the tragedy.

"He said he could actually feel the heat," McIntire said.

Steady supply needed

More than 80,000 units of blood from across the country have been sent to New York City, and a steady supply is needed to replenish the coffers.

By 6 p.m., volunteers were turning donors away, asking them to come back for blood drives next week.

As the 977th donor, Ronnie Brittian was one of the last in line and said he was prepared to wait three hours to do his part.

A senior at Advance High School, Brittian will be heading to Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, in June, as part of the delayed-entry program.

Until he gets to the Air Force, this is the only way he could help his country, Brittian said, adding: "I'm ready."

abuchanan@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 160

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