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Blood donors needed

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Several area blood drives to help meet the need

By Calen McKinney

 

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She doesn't flinch as the needle goes into her arm. With a squeeze of her hand, the blood starts to flow.

There are many people waiting to donate after she finishes. With just about an hour to go at the blood drive last Saturday, there have already been 28 units donated that can be used to help those in need.

According to Yulee Schafer, communications program manager for the American Red Cross, the need for donated blood is constant.

And Campbellsville residents are answering the call for donated blood. Those who haven't donated lately can do so at upcoming drives, one of which is today at Campbellsville University.

"The River Valley Region needs 400 donors each and every day to meet the needs of the 58 hospitals it serves in 68 counties," Schafer said.

There are several blood drives scheduled in the River Valley Region, to which Taylor County belongs. See a sidebar to this story for complete details.

Schafer said those who are 17 or older, 16 with permission from their parents, can donate blood. Those donating must meet height and weight requirements and be in good general health.

Some health issues can eliminate potential blood donors, Schafer said. Those who are becoming ill with the flu symptoms, for example, or have a fever can't donate. Those who have low iron levels can't either, nor can those who have traveled to areas that place them at risk for contracting malaria.

But those who have diabetes and asthma can donate if they are managing their conditions and feel well on donation day, Schafer said.

Walk-ins can generally be accommodated, she said, but the Red Cross encourages residents to call (800) RED-CROSS and make appointments to donate.

When donating, Schafer said, residents begin by registering and answering some health questions in a confidential setting with Red Cross workers.

Actually donating takes about 10 minutes, she said, with the entire process taking about an hour.

"One hour of a donor's life may mean a lifetime to someone who needs blood," Schafer said.

After someone donates, she said, blood collected is quarantined while a sample of it is tested to be sure it is safe for transfusion. Blood is then processed into as many as three components, including red cells, plasma and platelets.

"By processing the blood components, it may be possible to help as many as three different people with just one transfusion," Schafer said.

There are many uses for all three of those components, she said. Red cells can be used for victims of automobile collisions, people with chronic conditions and surgical patients. Plasma can be used to help burn victims and patients undergoing radiation or chemotherapy can use platelets.

Though there were a total of more than 30 units collected at Saturday's blood drive, there is a chance that not all of them will be used.

Schafer said some blood that is collected doesn't pass required testing and sometimes blood isn't used before its shelf life expires.

"Because the need for blood is constant, products are very rarely discarded because they have passed the shelf life," she said.

While there is always a need for donated blood, Schafer said, the need for it typically increases at this time of year.

"From now through the New Year, many people who might otherwise give blood may be busy with holiday preparations, travel and celebrations and find themselves too busy to give blood," Schafer said. "At the same time, during the winter weather traffic, there may be more accidents. Thus, while the number of donors may decrease in the season, the need may increase.

"And, many people make it a tradition to 'give thanks' by giving blood or to start off the New Year by giving blood. These are wonderful traditions for anyone to consider."

Schafer said some people have said they have never donated blood because no one ever asked them to.

"So I am asking now. Please give blood. You will be sharing a priceless gift, another birthday, another holiday, more time with family and friends or perhaps a 'new lease on life.' As you prepare your holiday gift list, please give someone something that means something."

Schafer said many teenagers donate at high schools and colleges. With upcoming holiday breaks planned, however, they might not be donating in the next few weeks.

"Many others choose to give blood at a community blood drive so they can donate with their family members," Schafer said. "Giving blood is a heartwarming family tradition and there are multi-generation families, grandparents, parents and students who make it a point to donate together, often in honor of a family member, neighbor or friend."

As the woman finishes her blood donation, sitting across from her husband as he donates, the family learns that their teenage daughter won't be able to donate this time. She is 16 and this would have been her first donation at a blood drive. But she says there's always next time.

For more information about donating blood, visit www.redcrossblood.org.

If You Go

There are several upcoming blood drives scheduled in Taylor County. For the most up-to-date schedule, visit www.redcrossblood.org.

• Today - Campbellsville University from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

• Saturday - Walmart from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

• Friday, Nov. 22 - Taylor Regional Hospital from 1:30 to 5:30 p.m.

• Saturday, Jan. 4 - Walmart from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.