WEST ALLIS -- A local organization is hoping to remind Milwaukee area residents of the importance of donating blood during the summer.
BloodCenter of Wisconsin is holding its 16th annual Declaration for Donations Blood Drive at the Wisconsin State Fair Park. It is one of the larger blood drives they hold and hope to bring in some 700 donors in two days.
"We do see a dip in blood donations because it is summer," Matt Queen with BloodCenter of Wisconsin said. "Families and individuals are more active and on vacations during summer so folks lose focus on the need for blood. Conversely, people are doing more activities. Traumas and emergencies tend to go up. The need for blood is always there and that's just as much in the summer as any other time of year."
Queen says one pint of blood can help up to three people but for one Cedarburg man, it was much more than one pint that helped him.
"Blood donations are so important to me because having gone through the process of battling cancer, you don't have a functioning immune system when going through the treatments," Jack Zbiegien said.
Zbiegien had more than 300 blood transfusions over 15 months to battle his leukemia. The donations played a large part in him being alive today.
"It's stunning," Zbiegien said. "I hope those people go to bed at night thinking how awesome they are because I do. I think about what they've done to help me get to today. To know, when you give a donation, you receive a card saying your pint of blood went to a patient. I'm here to say, I'm that patient."
Zbiegien spoke to several donors at the Tommy Thompson Youth Center on Wednesday to thank them for what they were doing and tell them how much one pint of blood can mean.
"It's important to give back to the community when I can," Kathleen Barbian of West Allis said. "This is the perfect opportunity."
"I thin that has to be incredibly special going to bed at night knowing you saved someone's life," Zbiegien said. "Anybody can do it. You don't have to be a hero. You don't need super powers. You just have to donate and save a life."
To donate blood, go to the Tommy Thompson Youth Center at the Wisconsin State Fair Park at 640 South 84th Street, West Allis, WI 53214. Walk-ins are welcomed but the BloodCenter suggests making an appointment by calling 1-877-BE-A-HERO (1-877-232-4376) or by visiting www.bcw.edu/declarations.