Restek set to host blood drive, record number of donors

Last May, when A.J. Saclyn turned 55, he and and about 50 of his co-workers gave a gift that could save more than 100 lives.

“I said, ‘Let’s have a little fun,’ ” said Saclyn, a sales territory manager for Restek and the company’s blood drive coordinator. “Let’s do 55 for my birthday, and people stepped up and signed up.”

This May, Saclyn and his colleagues are set to beat that record. When they hold their blood drive on Wednesday, they’ll have 64 donors, consisting of Restek employees and their spouses, signed up to roll up their sleeves.

“I thought I was going to have to put up flyers and put them on windshields to get that many people stoked, Saclyn said. “But I’m pretty overwhelmed by the response.”

The company has held a blood drive in partnership with the American Red Cross every two months for the past 16 years. The Bellefonte chromatography supplies manufacturer, the top business blood drive sponsor in Centre County, usually averages 30 donors each drive.

This year, the Mid Central Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Red Cross presented Restek with a business partnership award for their efforts.

“This was a no brainer for me; they are truly amazing,” said Laura Merritt, donor recruitment representative for the American Red Cross’ Greater Alleghenies Blood Region, in a statement. “They’re my No. 1 business in terms of blood drives and collections in this area.”

One pint can save as many as three lives, according to the American Red Cross. The average red blood cell transfusion is about 3 pints.

Those numbers took on a personal meaning for Saclyn, who received a transfusion a few years ago. Iron-deficient, he took supplements, but to no avail. On his doctor’s suggestion, he went through with the procedure.

“I was hesitant for all the reasons to be hesitant about it,” he said. “But I went and did it and looked down at the bag when I was going through the transfusion and it said, ‘American Red Cross.’ ”

He was afraid of needles. He didn’t like the sight of blood. But giving back was important to him and his colleagues. He shared his story with them and within four days, the record was broken.

“The emails just came flying in,” he said.