A Donation Worth Making

By: Amber Iuni

Darlene Yourick, executive assistant in Corporate and Captive Insurance at UPMC, is a frequent blood donor who believes in helping others.

Over the past 15 years, Yourick has donated 87 pints of blood. One pint can save three lives, which means she has contributed to saving more than 260 lives just by giving blood.

“The idea of saving that many lives is overwhelming to me,” she said. “I think donating blood is one of the easiest forms of altruism a person has the ability to perform in the interest of others.”

Throughout the last 10 years, local blood banks have lost 50% of their active donors, according to Vitalant, the blood product provider for UPMC. That means there are only 46,000 active blood donors today. This drastic decrease in donations has left hospitals with low blood inventory levels.

These are the lowest donation levels in the 28 years that Dr. Darrell Triulzi, director of the UPMC Division of Transfusion Medicine and Pathology, has been with UPMC.

“We typically have a five- to seven-day supply of blood; right now, we’re down to a two-day supply,” said Triulzi, who is also the medical director of Clinical Services at Vitalant Blood Center. “This means we are in risk of not being able to optimally support a disaster should that occur.”

In 2017, donors in western Pennsylvania gave 47% of the blood needed by area hospital, forcing Vitalant to import the other 53% from blood centers outside the area.

In the words of Yourick, people can be “life-changers” by donating blood if they are able.

“I encourage all my co-workers to join me when I’m going to a blood drive,” she said. “I think those who are healthy and have the ability to give life to others but have not donated blood should reconsider their decision. There is no better feeling than having the knowledge that you saved the life of another human being.”

By donating once, a person can save three lives and help the community — even people he or she may work with every day. At UPMC, if an employee donates blood three times during the year, he or she is eligible to receive one PTO day.

Not only does Triulzi serve as an advocate for blood donation, but he has seen its impact in his own family.

“My son has acute leukemia and has needed blood transfusions for the past year,” he said. “I know Pittsburghers are generous people because I’ve lived here. I just think that people don’t understand the magnitude of the need for blood.”

For or more information about donating blood or to find an upcoming blood donation opportunity, click here.