Leslie and Elias Pierson play an important role in helping Rhode Island Blood Center maintain a stable and safe blood supply. The couple are loyal donors and work with the VA in Providence where they see firsthand how this partnership saves lives in our community.

For Elias, the efforts started at a young age. He started donating when he was around 17 years old, going with his mother to our Middletown location.

As a universal donor, I feel it is an obligation and a privilege to donate.  I know I am contributing to making sure there is enough O- blood available when someone needs it.

Leslie started donating during an internship, where she learned the demand for blood products is constant. 

“There are some patients who rely on weekly treatments; there are catastrophic events that require massive transfusions. Blood products are needed to save lives.”

The couple go above and beyond when it comes to donating. Elias is a double red cell donor while Leslie is a platelet donor. Both donation types take a little extra time but both say it’s worth it knowing they are playing a small part in helping to maintain a safe and stable blood supply.

“The RIBC makes it almost a self-care like experience. The donation takes about two hours, but you can watch a movie, be given a warm blanket, and get a steady supply of hot chocolate.” said Leslie.

“It’s a win-win!”

The VA has been a long-standing partner in RIBC’s efforts to save lives in our community. The VA hosts 5 to 6 blood drives a year and usually collects at least 50 units. They are one of the largest hospital blood drives the RIBC has each year.

“Both patients and staff at the VA are mission driven individuals; they are inclined to perform acts of service and blood donation is that at its core” said Leslie when speaking with RIBC. “You have Veterans who donate because they have this experience of knowing exactly how important it is to have blood available for someone who needs it, and you have VA employees who are already so dedicated to their patients that they just see this as an extension of that care” Elias added.

It’s a partnership that helps both organizations when it comes to blood collection and providing the lifesaving products for patients.

“When we have had patients with special antigenic needs, the RIBC has always done a great job of getting us that critical blood as soon as possible,” said Elias.

“I’m glad that I am able to help personally repay that favor on behalf of the VA.”

When speaking with RIBC, both had the same message when it comes to donating. It’s easy and you can help save lives in our community.

“It isn’t painful, it doesn’t take long, and you know that this small act of kindness could save a life.  How often can most people say they did something so noble?” (Elias)

“Ensuring a routine donation seems to be a very small effort compared to the magnitude of its impact.” (Leslie)

Leslie went on to add that this is an easy way of paying it forward to help in RIBC’s mission to maintain a safe and stable blood supply.