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Hood River woman meets critical need with 17th gallon of blood

Margo Parker looks to donate 17th gallon at upcoming blood drive

The American Red Cross has a blood drive scheduled for Wednesday, July 26 — and one Hood River woman will mark the occasion by donating her 17th gallon of blood.

Margo Parker has been involved in the Red Cross for more than 35 years, and has been volunteering to host blood drives in Hood River for 20.

“She’s helped collect more than 10,000 units of blood, which does not include what she’s donated herself,” said Natividad Lewis, Red Cross external communications manager.


Margo Parker

Parker began volunteering with the Red Cross while living in eastern Oregon, and, upon moving to the Hood River Valley with her husband in 1985, “I felt like I needed to do something,” she said, so she began helping friend Winifred Nemeth call potential donors to schedule blood donation appointments. When Nemeth wanted to retire her position, Parker stepped in to fill it.

“She had been doing what I’m doing for 20 years also,” Parker said. “Things have changed over the years, so I don’t have as much to do as she used to.”

While Parker expects to hit the 17-gallon donation mark on Wednesday, her ultimate goal is 20 gallons.

“I’m scheduled to donate, but there are people who have donated a whole lot more,” she said. “But that’s a milestone for me.

“Not all of that is blood. Some of that was donating platelets and they count each time you do a platelet donation as a gallon, too, but it takes time; it’s eight units per gallon. I’ve been doing this for a lot of years.”

“Power Red” donations — where just red blood cells are taken — count as two units, she added.

There’s a constant need for blood donations. Most of those who give at Hood River blood drive events have donated in the past, with two or three new donors per session. Parker donates blood three or four times a year, she said. Those who have never donated before are encouraged to give it a try, according to a Red Cross press release.

For the July 26 drive, 100 people have scheduled appointments to give blood at the Best Western Plus Hood River Inn, but there are still slots for more, Parker said. The goal for the event is around 90 units, set by the Red Cross.

“We want to hit our goal,” said Parker. “The Red Cross has to get so many units of blood every day to supply the hospitals.”


To schedule an

appointment, call Margo Parker at


The American Red Cross has issued an emergency call for donors, as blood donations have fallen short of expectations for the past two months, resulting in about 61,000 fewer donations than needed.

“There is a critical need for lifesaving blood,” said Neil Tosuntikool, Donor Recruitment director of the Red Cross Pacific Northwest Blood Services Region, in a press release. “Right now, blood donations are being distributed to hospitals faster than donations are coming in, which could lead to delays in patient care. We are doing everything we can to prevent that from happening but rely on generous volunteers of the community to help restock the shelves.”

There’s incentives for the upcoming Hood River drive — those who donate July 26 will enjoy an on-site cookout and receive a $10 Visa gift card while supplies last, courtesy of Suburban Propane.

“We’ve been doing it so long down there at the inn,” Parker said of the Best Western Plus Hood River Inn location. “It’s such a wonderful organization to let us have the space.”

Blood donation appointments can be scheduled online at (code HoodRiver), by calling 1-800-REDCROSS, or by calling Parker at 541-387-3669.

All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients, said a press release. A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.

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