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Westchester Blood Hunter Has a Blast in Elmsford

ELMSFORD, N.Y. -- At Antun’s of Westchester in Elmsford, Thomas Kane was once again coordinating a blood drive. He talked to the people at the reception in the catering hall, to the staff, to the volunteers and, of course, to the donors, making sure everything was running smoothly.

"How are you feeling?” he asked a senior man who had just donated, a red band wrapped around his arm.

As the Red Cross blood division account manager for a region that includes Westchester County, the Bronx and Manhattan, Kane organizes 12 to 15 blood drives a month. He said that the average attendance is 30 people, but that the number can be much higher. He mentioned, for example, a blood drive held last month at a firehouse in Port Chester, where 100 people showed up.

“It all depends on the sponsors,” said Kane, 57, who lives in Stamford, Conn., is divorced and has two sons.

He was visibly pleased with Antun’s Westchester, pointing to the different dishes arranged on a table.

“They put on a whole buffet,” he said. “Most sponsors don’t do that.”

Kane has a technical background and has worked for 20 years at Omega Engineering. But after spending five years at the Red Cross, he now speaks eagerly about blood. Ask him a question, and you'll likely get more information than expected. He says he is driven by the belief that informed donors are more willing to donate.

“A lot of it is education,” Kane said.

He mentioned, as an example, that blood can only be stored for 42 days.

“A lot of people don’t know that,” he said.  “That’s why we must have ongoing blood drives.”

But there’s nothing about donating blood that he likes repeating more than the fact that a pint, the volume usually collected in a single donation, can help three patients.

“When we donate blood, we can actually save three lives,” he said.

Less than a half-hour before the Antun’s blood drive finished Tuesday, Kane had counted 65 attendants, and was happy with the turnout. He said people of Westchester usually respond when they are invited to donate blood.

“I see a lot of support,” he said.

The next day Kane was already back at a blood drive, but this time in a different capacity. He himself was donating.

“I try everything I can to inspire donors to come and donate blood,” he said on the phone, lying on a bed, a needle stuck to his vein, blood flowing from it.

We can’t say it isn’t true.

Are you a blood donor? Have you attended the blood drive at Antun's of Westchester? How did you feel after donating -- and after eating the food? You can answer in Facebook ?

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