They Just Kept Coming – At Roswell Park, blood donors didn’t miss a beat – even during a pandemic!

They just kept coming!

As we are getting back to life as we knew it (mostly), it feels like the right time to reflect on some of the ways Western New Yorkers stepped up to help those in need during an unprecedented time for our world, country and even our local hospitals.

We heard a lot about the heroic efforts of our frontline hospital workers, such as the long hours and the personal risks they took to ensure the health and well-being of our community. What all frontline and health care workers have done and continue to do is beyond amazing and we are grateful and humbled by their many sacrifices.

Today, we’d like to recognize another group of individuals who have not garnered much of the public spotlight but have gone above and beyond to help local cancer patients. I’m talking about the blood and platelet donors at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center. The Donor Center at Roswell Park remained operational all throughout Covid-19 and without hesitation their loyal donors showed up.

“Right from the onset of Covid-19, our donors did not miss a beat. Despite their own fears of the unknown, they just kept coming. Even with the warnings to avoid going into grocery stores, places of worship, and their own employers, they kept coming. With every new CDC recommendation of what not to do, our donors continued to honor their appointments. Many of our donors are long-time supporters of our program and we have witnessed, first-hand, just how brave they are. The bigger the blizzard, the more determined they are to get here. But we never expected this!” said Maria Turner, Donor Center Marketing Director.



Early in the pandemic, the Donor Center temporarily relocated to a larger space on campus to ensure the proper distance between donors. “Along with following all the mandates such as; mask requirements and temperature checks, our goal was to maintain business as usual in a very unusual time. Recently, I had an opportunity to talk with several of our regular donors who made donations a priority during Covid-19 and I asked them how they were able to set aside any possible concerns and continue donating. Their responses were not glamorous or earth shattering, just simple and humble like the donor who stated “I had what someone needed”, Ms. Turner shared. For many months, blood and platelet donors were the only visitors allowed on campus. During this time, the Roswell Park Facilities Planning team began work on a newly renovated space for the Donor Center which is now conveniently located at the entrance of the Main Hospital. The Donor Center celebrated their grand opening in October 2020.

Over the past few months, blood centers across the country have been experiencing severe blood shortages, especially for type O blood, as the constraints of Covid-19 have forced many blood drives to be cancelled or downsized. The decrease in overall collections means that hospitals, including Roswell Park, face a new set of challenges. Thankfully, the community has been extremely supportive, and the Donor Center is grateful to the hundreds of first-time donors who have responded to their plea for increased blood and platelet donations.

The need for blood products never stops. Cancer patients rely on an ample, safe, and readily available blood supply, even in a pandemic. Please join me in a big round of applause for all the donors who came out and continue doing so in support of the patients at Roswell Park.



If you know someone who donates, consider buying them a cup of coffee and thank them for what they do. These folks are usually quiet behind the scenes heroes that don’t ask for much recognition, but we are eager to extend our deepest gratitude for their unwavering courage and life-saving endeavors.

If you would like to become a donor at Roswell Park, please give them a call at (716) 845-8275 or go to

Mary Friona