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Statewide blood drive: A look at efforts in Portland, Lewiston, and Rockland

Before the sun was up Wednesday morning, preparation was well underway at blood drive locations from Portland to Bangor, all part of the NEWSCENTER Maine Red Cross blood drive.

(NEWS CENTER Maine) -- "The need is constant, the gratification is instant, give blood." That was the message volunteers and donors saw Wednesday on Red Cross boxes filled with supplies at the NEWSCENTER Maine Red Cross blood drive. It was hosted at five locations across the state.

Every two seconds someone in the United States needs blood and one donation can help up to three people.

“I’ve been donating blood since I was 18,” said Bret Lebleu while donating in Portland.

Lebleu says he started donating blood when he was in high school and never stopped.

“It’s a good fulfilling experience and it’s not as scary as everyone thinks.”

Some of our own NEWSCENTER Maine team members rolled up a sleeve and donated, too.

“The need is constant,” said Aly Barraza, Red Cross Communications Director.

Barraza says donations this year are down due to the combination of a serious flu season and back-to-back storms.

"This has been really a unique situation. Not just the winter but the spring as well and we’ve already seen in March 750 units go uncollected just in Maine alone."

Many of the donors who gave blood Wednesday once depended on donations themselves. That was the case for Scott McMullin, who gave blood Wednesday in Lewiston. He needed blood donations while recovering from a benign brain tumor 53 years ago.

“I’m thrilled," says McMullin. "There were years when I could not donate because of medications and as their technology changed it then became possible for me to start paying it forward.”

The pleasant weather certainly helped the turnout in Rockland.

“It's a beautiful spring day," said donor, Heather Donahue. "I was walking by returning some library books and I thought ‘why not?’”

Some donors like Heather Donahue give, just because.

“Who knows when you’ll need it.”

As of 4:00 p.m. Wednesday, Red Cross officials released the donation totals for the NEWS CENTER Maine Red Cross blood drive: Portland collected 54 units of blood, Lewiston collected 29 units, and Rockland collected 42.

If you would still like to donate, please visit the Red Cross website.