A face to the need for blood


There’s a saying in the news business that the best way to tell a story “is to put a face on it.”

That’s just what the Rhode Island Blood Center did Monday morning when it held a press conference at the Hoxsie Four Corners Dunkin’ Donuts to announce that January is National Blood Donor Month.

The message the center wants to bring home is that blood saves lives and that because blood donations slow down at this time of year it can use all the donations it gets.

Jennifer Henshall, the mother of two daughters, was the face to the story. She couldn’t have been a better choice.

Henshall was composed but obviously unaccustomed to speaking to an audience that included General Treasurer Gina Raimondo, Attorney General Peter Kilmartin and Mayor Scott Avedisian. That made what she had to say all the more genuine.

Because of a genetic condition, it is questionable whether either of her daughters would have survived. Two platelet transfusions stabilized the extremely low platelet condition of her first daughter, Clara. During her pregnancy with her second daughter, Elyse, Henshall received 33 IVIG transfusions, each containing pooled products extracted from the plasma of more than 1,000 blood donors.

Those are the statistics of the story, which for that matter could probably be applied to others. It was Henshall’s account, her emotion when it came to relating the uncertainty her daughters faced, that made the message compelling.

There was another side to the story, too.

During the month local Dunkin’ Donut franchisees will give one pound of coffee to all those who give a pint of blood. Donors are given a coupon that is redeemable at Dunkin Donuts stores. In addition, Dunkin’ Donuts hosts numerous blood drives throughout the year.

The Rhode Island Blood Center is the blood supply to all Rhode Island Hospitals. The daily demand for blood amounts to nearly 300 pints.

It’s hard to put a face on those 300 pints, difficult to imagine all those who are in need of blood and the circumstances surrounding those needs. But when we come face to face with that need, whether it is a family member or we personally, there is no substitute. It is then that we understand the importance of giving. Jennifer Henshall enabled many to understand that.


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