The community has the opportunity to save lives locally at the 4th annual David Viens Memorial Blood Drive set for Saturday, May 7 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Signal Crest United Methodist Church.
"If someone's feeling charitable and doesn't have any money, we have the answer for that," said Elaine Viens, who along with daughter Carolyn Viens and Signal Crest United Methodist Church organized the first blood and platelet drive and bone marrow registration event in May 2008 in honor of her husband David Viens.
The purpose was to find a bone marrow match for Viens, who passed away in December 2008 due to complications from a stem-cell transplant. The procedure was to treat the chronic lymphocytic leukemia he was diagnosed with five years prior, at the age of 46.
"We never knew there was such a need for blood donations until he started treatment," said Elaine Viens. "The need can't be met any other way - it can't be bought."
Platelets, or the blood's "healer" cells, are often used in the treatment of cancer patients as well as for blood transfusions, said Carolyn Viens.
"I always thought [blood donations] were used for car accidents and surgeries," she said. "I had no idea how vastly it was used for cancer."
The three prior drives have assisted Blood Assurance in collecting approximately 300 units of blood, and more than 400 people have been added to the bone marrow registry.
They said they felt the drive is a fitting way to honor Viens, as he was a frequent volunteer with organizations such as WRES, and someone who would never leave a stranger stranded on the side of the road.
Carolyn Viens, who does the majority of the legwork behind the event, requests participants sign up for a specific time to give through the church website by clicking on "events."
"Walk-ins are welcome, but it does ease the process and ease the wait if we have an idea when people are coming," she said.
The entire donation process lasts around 30 to 45 minutes, and childcare will be available for those with young children.
Since the donations will take place inside the church as opposed to a Blood Assurance van, donors have increased privacy as well as temperature control, she said.
A swab of the cheek is all that is necessary for one to register for the National Marrow Donor Program, which identifies individuals who are matches for those in line for bone marrow transplants. Once a person has completed the process, they are on the registry for life, said Carolyn Viens.
Donors will be provided with snacks and a T-shirt and be entered to win the Blood Assurance prize of the month.
Those unable to give are encouraged to donate baked goods to help revitalize drained donors.
Signal Crest United Methodist Church is at 1005 Ridgeway Ave. For more information or to pre-register, contact Carolyn Viens at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the church website. More information on bone marrow registration and blood and platelet donation is available at the Blood Assurance website.