Nancy Theriault of Mexico has donated 83 pints of blood at drives in Rumford and Mexico. Marianne Hutchinson/Rumford Falls Times

RUMFORD — The first time Nancy Theriault donated blood was when a nurse asked her while she was in a waiting room at Maine Medical Center in Portland in 1976.

“While I was in the waiting room, one of the nurses asked me if I wanted to donate blood, and when they tested my blood they said my blood type was the same as a baby at the neonatal (unit) that needed a transfusion,” Theriault said.

Since then, the Mexico resident said she’s donated 83 pints as a way to give back.

Theriault has several family members with cancer or who have undergone cancer treatments, and when her brother Frank was diagnosed with cancer in July 2015, he was given four pints of blood, she said.

She also gives “because if there is no blood for people that need a transfusion then what do you do? I mean, somebody has to be giving blood. There is always accidents, there’s surgeries, there’s so many instances where people have to have blood and if nobody donates, then there is a shortage of it, then it could be life-threatening if they didn’t have the blood that they need.”

During a recent lunch break from her job as an office manager in Rumford, she went to the American Legion Hall on Congress Street to donate. She was preregistered on the American Red Cross’ Blood Services webpage and expects her visit will take about an hour.

Greeting and signing her in at the door are volunteers from the Knights of Columbus of Rumford, who are sponsoring the drive, and Grand Knight Peter Cox and several other volunteers are also watching over people after their treatments.

“The need for blood is constant,” Mary Brant, communications manager for the Red Cross Northern New England Region, said Thursday. “There is no other source of blood other than a healthy volunteer blood donor. “One of the challenges that the Red Cross is facing right now is that only three out of every one hundred people are donating blood and that’s really not enough to keep the blood supply strong,” she said.

Nationally the Red Cross has to collect 13,000 donations every day to meet the needs of patients around the country, she added.

In order to help meet the need, Brant suggests donors encourage their friends and family members to join them

“I think one of the reasons that people don’t donate is that it just might not be something that they are familiar with and I think it’s always a little scary to do something for the first time,” Brant said.

Red blood cells have a shelf life of 42 days while the platelets have a shelf life of five days, she said.

“There are people that are undergoing treatments for various cancers they sometimes can require platelets on a daily basis and red blood cells,” Brant said.

“Patients fighting cancer use nearly one-quarter of the nation’s blood supply, more than patients fighting any other disease,” she said. “And only three out of every one hundred people are donating blood; that simply is not enough people donating blood to meet the ongoing need.”

To donate platelets, people can schedule appointments with the Red Cross Portland Blood Donation Center at 524 Forest Ave. or the Red Cross Twin Cities Blood Donation Center at 245 Center St. in Auburn.

For more information call the American Red Cross Blood Services at 1-800-733-2767 or to go

The next blood drive in the are is from 8:15 a.m. to 2:15 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 26, at Mountain Valley High School in Rumford.

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