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Published on August 18, 2015

Meet Cape Cod’s No. 1 blood donor

Meet Cape Cod’s No. 1 blood donor

The EMTs rushed the motorcycle accident victim into the Emergency Center. His leg was severely injured – soon to be amputated. The ambulance technicians had stabilized the bleeding during their race to the hospital, but now the need for blood was paramount.

The victim was so critical that there wasn’t time to test his blood type. Staff rushed to the nearby blood bank to retrieve O-positive, the most common blood type. While stabilizing the patient, five pints eventually would be required from the blood bank in Cape Cod Hospital.

Watching the life-saving scene that day was Eileen McQuillan, who has worked in the hospital Emergency Room for 39 years. Throughout the nearly four decades in ER, one thing has remained constant in her life – donating blood.

More than maybe any other blood donor on the Cape, McQuillan understands the critical value of her blood in saving lives. She’s is grateful she has been able to make a difference in others’ lives, whether it was to save the life of an accident victim or to infuse a patient suffering from internal bleeding.

In fact, McQuillan holds the distinction of donating more blood to Cape Cod Healthcare than anyone else – nearly 20 gallons and counting. Those 40 gallons calculate to 320 units that represent both red blood cells and plasma for patients not only in the ER, but in cardiology, the Davenport-Mugar Cancer Center, ICU, orthopedics and general surgery.

It means that McQuillan has donated blood virtually every three months.

“It’s no more painful than a pin prick; it takes only about a half hour and I am back to work without any after effects,” she explains. “I know most people don’t have the opportunity to see so intimately what their donation means, but I truly wish they can have a better appreciation so they would donate more.”

McQullian, who grew up in Hyannis and now lives in Osterville,  actually began donating blood long before she joined what is now Cape Cod Healthcare, the umbrella for Cape Cod and Falmouth Hospitals – which together require 8,000 pints of blood a year.

Her first donation was while she was still in high school because a good friend suffered from spinal cancer and required regular transfusions during radiation and chemotherapy.

“My friend lived more than a decade before dying,” recounted McQuillan. “I have missed her deeply, but always gained sustenance knowing the blood she received from me and others gave her a decade more of life.”