By Max Fontaine | Death or discomfort beat
Seventeen participants in Regional Corporate Hospital’s spring blood drive/1K run-walk collapsed during the event Saturday near the hospital grounds at 9 Subdivision Plaza.
Affected parties were taken to the emergency room at DownState Medical Center. RCH’s ER closed in January.
Collapsees were treated and released within hours. Some were given blood transfusions, if available.
Upon release, each outpatient-athlete received a cookie, a bottle of energy drink and a sticker containing the phrase, “I gave blood and survived!”
No deaths were reported, although one community member affected by the outbreak said that assessment is “about 50-50.”
“I almost wish I was dead,” said Karleigh Furgets, type A negative, Bass Lake. “That was vial and vile.”
Changes in the annual event may have led to the rash of feinting, doctors said in an enclosed statement. Typically, volunteers are allowed to donate blood or take part in the 1K fundraising portion, but not both. That stipulation was lifted this year.
CEO and chief executive officer Vinewood Lancaster said efforts are being made to change that for 2016.
“We wanted community volunteers to give of themselves to the utmost level,” Lancaster said. “That may have been a mistake on our part, but I’m not admitting that right now.”
A fitness expert at the hospital said some pass-outs might have been prevented, with proper preparation.
“Always make sure to stretch out before you walk, run or donate blood,” said Dr. Simon LaLayne, 76. “Always.”
The annual blood drive/run raises money for blood drives and to raise general awareness.
No charges have been filed, according to local authorities, although hospital attorneys have been contacted.