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Nonprofit organization helps advance delivery method of blood donations

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Thursday, Oct. 9, 2014

By Chase Golightly


CHASE GOLIGHTLY/CRONKITE NEWS: One Arizona nonprofit takes blood donation to a new level. Flights For Life flies blood donor deliveries to hospitals all over the state. I joined one of the pilots on a quick journey to help save lives.

JAY OLSEN/FLIGHTS FOR LIFE PILOT: We are on a platelet run to Show Low today.

CHASE GOLIGHTLY/CRONKITE NEWS: Jay Olsen is one of the voluntary pilots for Flights for Life. In his free time he delivers blood wherever it’s needed.

JAY OLSEN/FLIGHTS FOR LIFE PILOT: We will be flying to basically every place in the state that has a trauma center.

CHASE GOLIGHTLY/CRONKITE NEWS: Flights For Life has been operating in Phoenix since 1984. The nonprofit organization transports human blood 24 hours a day 365 days a year. Last year pilots flights for life completed more than 1,000 missions delivering close to 19,000 pints of blood throughout the state.

CHASE GOLIGHTLY/CRONKITE NEWS: After receiving the platelets from United Blood Services, Olsen takes off from Falcon Field Airport for Show Low. After a 40-minute flight he lands, delivers the blood, then it’s back to Mesa. The total round trip is only about two hours, a short amount of time to help save someone’s life.

CHASE GOLIGHTLY/CRONKITE NEWS: Sue Thew with United Blood Services says that with the help of Flights For Life, it takes a fraction of the amount of time to get blood where it’s needed compared to driving.

SUE THEW/UNITED BLOOD SERVICES: It would probably take United Blood Services a full day to transport blood to an outlying hospital, which is something that a Flights For Life pilot could do in about three hours.

JAY OLSEN/FLIGHTS FOR LIFE PILOT: Gives you a good feeling to do what you love to do and have it do somebody some good at the same time. That’s the best feeling there is. And have fun doing.