The numbers can’t tell the full story. That’s why Keith Bloomer attended Tuesday’s dedication of a wall of hope and life at MetLife offices on Quaker Lane.
Bloomer had a double lung transplant four years ago that wouldn’t have been successful without blood transfusions. He doesn’t know how many units of blood got him through the operation, but he knows how blood can save lives.
“A donor saved my life,” he said.While Bloomer can’t give blood because of his medical situation, he volunteers for the Rhode Island Blood Center and frequents drives to thank donors and provide living proof of what giving blood can do.
In addition to life, Bloomer said the donations “brought my family together,” adding, “Without it, I wouldn’t be here today.”
But numbers are also a part of the story and why MetLife now has a wall dedicated to the work of local artists. The insurance company has hosted blood drives for the past 28 years. And, as MetLife has hosted at least four drives for each of the past nine years, it has received a framed Seasons Pass print from the center for each year. The paintings and photographs feature familiar Rhode Island scenes such as Waterfire in Providence, Beaver Tail light, a sailing regatta and the lighthouse at Castle Hill with waves sending spray into the air.
“We have always seen the connection between art and health care, both celebrating the human condition,” Frank Prosnitz, spokesman for the Blood Center, as longtime MetLife blood donors gathered in front of the wall. “This wall will grow, continuing to signify MetLife’s ongoing commitment to the community it serves.”
He said that it is because of relationships and sponsors like MetLife that the Rhode Island Blood Center “has been able to build among the best and most versatile blood centers in the nation.”
He noted that the center is the exclusive blood supplier to Rhode Island hospitals; that it employs 400; has a budget of $42 million; registers up to 10,000 individuals annually for its marrow donor program and has collected more than 4,000 umbilical cords of which 10 have been used in life-saving transplants. He also put numbers to the contribution of MetLife employees. Since it has run drives, MetLife employees have donated more than 13,300 units of blood. As each unit is capable of saving three lives, the number of people saved is close to 40,000.
“Many Rhode Island towns are smaller than that,” Prosnitz said to illustrate the magnitude of so many donors.
“We are proud to have such employees,” said Ann Foley, MetLife director of business planning and administration. She said that giving to the community is part of the company’s culture.
Guy Lasora, who coordinates the drives at MetLife, said his mother started him on the practice of blood donations. He has donated 122 units since then. He urged people to get the message to their kids so that they, too, can become long-time donors.
There was no question, however, as to who is the biggest of givers among MetLife employees.
Although he has not been able to give in recent years for medical reasons, Michael Dynon has given 19 gallons of blood during his life. Dynon was surprised to be singled out. Like Bloomer, he wanted to be certain to get out the word that blood saves lives. It’s as simple as that.