PHILADELPHIA — More than 70 Philadelphia Eagles employees and their families, including coach Doug Pederson and his wife, Jeannie, participated Thursday in a community blood drive at Lincoln Financial Field in response to the dip in blood donations across the country amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The drive, hosted by the Eagles and the American Red Cross, collected 74 pints from nearly 100 donors, which has the potential to help up to 222 patients.
When the Eagles first spoke to the Red Cross in March, the organization indicated that 2,700 blood drives had been cancelled across the country as people sheltered at home, resulting in 86,000 fewer blood donations, according to Eagles president Don Smolenski.
Approximately 36,000 units of red blood cells is needed every day in the U.S., and roughly 40% of the nation’s blood and blood components — collected from volunteer donors — is provided by the Red Cross.
Donation stations were spread out across the Touchdown Club at Lincoln Financial Field to ensure proper social distancing.
Pederson, wearing a custom Eagles protective mask, took his turn on the table in the morning before posing for a picture with the health care worker who drew his blood.
“As soon as the email went out, one of the first text messages I got was from Coach asking if he and Jeannie could donate. They were the like first ones to reach out and sign up, which was awesome,” Smolenski told ESPN.
“He’s just been very active. He participates, he’s engaged, he’s involved, he cares and all of that just comes through. It’s authentic to who they are and when they sign up and participate, it just shows how much they support the community but also for our staff and other people who come to donate, it sends a very positive message that what they’re doing is important and meaningful and appreciated and it goes a long way.”
The blood drive was part of an ongoing outreach by the Eagles in response to the pandemic. Earlier this month, owner Jeffrey Lurie donated $1 million to establish the COVID-19 Immunology Defense Fund, to support a program through Penn Medicine to test health care workers for potential immunity and fund vaccination efforts.
“We have such an appreciation on our part for all of the people involved in blood services,” Smolenski said. “They are on the front line, they are essential workers, and the work that they’re doing is important because it does positively impact others who are dealing with other issues outside of the COVID-19. For all they did today to ensure it was safe for everybody … I don’t think we can call out enough all of the essential workers who are doing so much across the community for all of us.”