Hundreds of people showed up at the BMO Harris Bradley Center Monday, March 25th. Among the donors was the Verdin family, whose son relied on blood transfusions when he was an infant.
"He was born at 26 weeks and weighed 1 lb., 1.5 oz., and then 11 inches," Tamie Verdin said.
Her son, Santos, who is now seven, was born more than two months premature. She says she wasn't sure if he'd make it to the next day. Santos was in the NICU for three months. Blood transfusions kept him alive. Nine units of blood, almost the amount of blood an average adult contains, helped him develop and grow.
"It was very scary. He had a 95% chance he wasn't even going to make it out of the operating room," Verdin said.
Now, the healthy seven-year-old is a thriving Taekwondo champaion. He already has the black belt to prove it.
"I usually compete with other people, like bigger people," Santos said.
He is just one of thousands of patients in our area that rely on blood donations for treatment.
The BloodCenter of Wisconsin has a goal of 500 donors, with all blood types. But there is an especially great need for O negative and platelet donors.
"Only about 7% of the population has that blood type. It's the blood type that's used in emergency rooms. It's on Flight for Life, so very much in need of O negative as well," Fay Spano from the Bloodcenter of Wisocnsin said.
To show their gratitude to those who are helping, the Bucks will provide all donor applicants a voucher for a pair of Bucks tickets to a game next week.
While that is incentive enough, those donating blood Monday say it's the giving the gift of live that brings them back.
"It's just a good feeling," donor Mark Schmitz said.
"For other blood donors out there, if it wasn't for them, Santos would not be here today," Verdin said.
The Milwaukee Bucks and the BloodCenter of Wisconsin say 487 individuals donated during the blood drive.