WASHINGTON — House Majority Whip Steve Scalise has had more than this fair share of needles and tubes poking in and out of his body over the last year, so one more wasn’t going to bother him on the anniversary of his near-fatal shooting on a baseball field in Alexandria, Virginia.
In fact, Scalise was all smiles Thursday as he slowly made his way into the foyer of the Rayburn Office Building for the annual Congressional Blood Drive.
“I’ve definitely given more than my fair share of blood, but just not in the same way,” Scalise joked before his pre-donation screening.
The anniversary of Scalise’s shooting also happens to be World Blood Donor Day, and Scalise was on hand to not just give back after so many others gave to help him, but to encourage others to do the same.
“It took 20 pints of blood to get me back,” said Scalise. “A normal body holds about nine pints so I definitely used way more than my fair share and through the grace of people that donate blood was able to help save my life.”
Scalise says he’s donated before, but not regularly. Shortly before he rolled up his left sleeve to make his donation, he admitted the last year has provided a different perspective.
“It’s something that’s important to do and when you’re healthy, there are people that need that blood to live.”
The Congressional Blood Drive is run by Inova Blood Donor Services.
“Our need is constant,” says Heather Wade, a donor recruitment manager with Inova. “Inova Blood Donor Services provides 250 blood products each and every day to the 24 area hospitals in the metro Washington DC area. So that’s a big challenge for us, and in the summer time we actually see a decrease in participation. So we’re asking you to visit us.”
Last year, hundreds of people took part in the Congressional Blood Drive.
This year, Luke Peterson was among the first to step out of the office.
“It’s pretty convenient to do it right at work,” said Peterson. “It’s always a good thing to try to help out some people; I know it’s helped out some people in my family before, who used blood transfusions, and it’s always something I know we need across the country.”
Peterson said donating is “pretty easy” and “not painful.”
That was a relief to Ellen Gosnell, who was giving for the first time.
“I think it’s pretty impressive that so many people were willing to donate blood so I just kind of wanted to do my part too,” said Gosnell.
But her eyes never drifted down to her left arm, where the blood was being drawn out.
“Not at all,” Gosnell laughed. “I don’t like needles.”
But it didn’t stop her.
“Yeah, but I think most people here are probably afraid of needles, to be fair,” said Gosnell. “If they can do it, I can do it too.”
On Saturday, Inova will hold its annual blood drive with the Washington Nationals from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Most of the morning slots are already booked, but people who want to donate in the afternoon can drop by without an appointment, get a tour of Nats Park, and receive a T-shirt and two tickets to a future game.
Click here for more information on Inova’s Blood Drive.
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