With more than 1,800 blood donations canceled in Connecticut because of recent severe weather, American Red Cross officials called the governor’s office, hoping Gov. Dannel P. Malloy could help spread the word about the need for donors.

“He said, ‘I can do you one better,’” Paul T. Sullivan, CEO of the American Red Cross Connecticut Blood Services Region, said Monday.

Malloy gives blood 1.31.11

The donor-in-chief urges residents to give blood

The governor was on his way to donate a pint.

“Seems like he’s a very hands on governor,” Sullivan said.

Soon after, Malloy stepped into the reading room of the UConn School of Law’s William F. Starr Hall, scene of the campus blood drive and the latest gubernatorial public service announcement.

In less than a month in office, Malloy has made a point of using his platform to offer state residents advice–stay off the roads during a snow storm, drive slow in poor conditions, clear the snow off roofs and unstable structures.

Malloy said his hands-on approach won’t end when the winter storms do.

“You should expect more of this,” he said. “This is what I do. So get used to it.”

On Monday, more than a dozen reporters, photographers and videographers hovered as he extolled the virtues of giving blood while getting prepped for his donation.

“This is a great way to give back to society, your fellow human being,” Malloy said, speaking into microphones while lying down. “There’s many different uses of the blood that you’ll donate. You’re really potentially helping three different sets of individuals with your donations, so it’s really important work.”

“And it’s easy,” he added. “And you get cookies for it. And a Dunkin’ Donuts card.”

One blood donation can help save the lives of up to three people, according to the Red Cross.

For the Red Cross, Malloy’s donation and the publicity he brought came at a critical time. More than 1,800 blood donations in the state have been canceled in recent weeks because of the severe weather. Nationwide, more than 18,000 donations have been canceled, leaving the blood supply at its lowest January level in a decade, according to the American Red Cross.

The Red Cross’ Connecticut blood services region has issued a statewide appeal for donations, aiming to get 6,250 donations in two weeks.

Monday’s blood drive at the law school was expected to draw about 30 people, including the donor-in-chief.

Mally gives blood 2 1.31.11

American Red Cross Connecticut region CEO Paul Sullivan explains blood processing to a captive audience

“I thought that this would be a good way to demonstrate support for what’s being done and to encourage other Connecticut citizens to get out on any good day that there’s a blood drive,” Malloy said from the donating table.

He has been an avid blood donor since college, although his donations lagged during last year’s campaign, according to his staff.

Malloy entered Monday’s drive with a quip: “I’ve taken some blood myself over the years. I may be doing it on the 16th of February”–the date of his budget address.

After some paperwork and an exam–he earned high marks for his blood pressure, 112/62, from Red Cross Team Supervisor Sandy Hayes–Malloy found his way to a blood-drawing station reserved for him with a paper towel marked “GOV’R” in black marker.

When he completed his remarks to the press, Malloy chatted with Sullivan as he finished giving blood. His time to donate the pint, Hayes reported, was 6 minutes, a figure that pleased the governor.

“Near record,” he said. “Not that I’m competitive.”

He held court during the next phase of blood donation, recovering at a table full of snacks. Malloy munched on pretzels and chatted up two fellow donors, both students, one from Stamford who knew Malloy’s youngest son.

“Two thirds of the people at this table who gave blood are from Stamford,” Malloy told Red Cross officials.

Later, the governor answered reporters’ questions about the storms forecasted for later this week and snow removal efforts. On his way out, he offered two parting words.

“Give blood!”

To make an appointment to give blood or platelets, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit www.redcrossblood.org.

Arielle Levin Becker covered health care for The Connecticut Mirror. She previously worked for The Hartford Courant, most recently as its health reporter, and has also covered small towns, courts and education in Connecticut and New Jersey. She was a finalist in 2009 for the prestigious Livingston Award for Young Journalists, a recipient of a Knight Science Journalism Fellowship and the third-place winner in 2013 for an in-depth piece on caregivers from the National Association of Health Journalists. She is a 2004 graduate of Yale University.

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