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Blood drives give residents chance to save lives

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By Calen McKinney

 

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It took 23 minutes, and he could have saved someone's life.

Ricky Malone of Campbellsville, a 35-year donor, has now donated 137 units of blood. He began donating as a teenager.

"A friend just asked me to start with," Malone said as he donated double red cells at an American Red Cross blood drive Tuesday at Campbellsville Christian Church. "I don't mind it, so I don't care," he said.

Church officials said the goal for the drive was to have 25 people donate. At 4:40 p.m., a little more than two and half hours into the five-hour drive, 26 had been able to donate.

Twenty-nine people from the church signed up to donate and about 15 signed up directly with the Red Cross to donate.

Kia Black, a phlebotomist with the Red Cross, said the Red Cross is in need of red blood cells and platelets.

She said red blood cells can be given at mobile drives, like the ones hosted in Campbellsville, but to donate platelets, donors must travel to Elizabethtown or Louisville.

There are additional requirements to donate red blood cells, in addition to the qualifications a donor must meet to donate blood.

Phillip Harris of Campbellsville began donating blood a few years ago, when his father-in-law, Max Sutton, was diagnosed with cancer.

"Someone asked me to do it and I said, 'Yes,'" Harris said, as he donated double red blood cells for the first time.

Though the blood supply is steady right now, the Red Cross encourages people to donate blood during the summer months, when donations typically decline.

And Taylor Countians have several upcoming chances to help. One is today at First United Methodist Church from 2 to 7 p.m.

Another is Monday, July 8, from 2 to 7 p.m. at Walmart.

Residents can also donate on Friday, July 19, at Taylor Regional Hospital from 1 to 5 p.m.

Katy Maloy, program manager for communications at the American Red Cross office in Louisville, said that even though the blood supply is steady now, regular donors traditionally don't have as much time to donate in the summer.

Therefore, Maloy said, the Red Cross reminds other donors that it's important that the organization maintain an adequate blood supply.

"The Red Cross must collect about 17,000 blood donations every day to keep up with patient needs," Maloy said.

"There is an urgent need for platelet donations, as hospital patient needs are currently outpacing donations," she said. "Platelets must be transfused within five days of donation, so donations are always needed to help save lives."

Maloy said summer schedules could conflict with donating blood. And with high schools and universities out for summer break, those who would donate there might not be able to.

"Blood donors at high school and college blood drives account for as much as 20 percent of donations during the school year, but donations from students drop by more than 80 percent when school is out for summer," Maloy said.

"And, half as many 18- to 24-year-old donors give blood during the summer months compared with the rest of the year."

Maloy said blood donors of any blood type are always welcome to donate, but those who are O, A and B negative are especially urged to donate to help the Red Cross avoid a summer blood shortage.

She said blood drives in Campbellsville seem to be very successful. About 1,300 blood donations are made in Taylor County each year, which Maloy said potentially save up to 3,900 lives each year.

"The Red Cross greatly appreciates the support of blood donors and blood drive sponsors/coordinators in Taylor County."

In the River Valley Blood Services region, which includes central Kentucky, there are nearly 400 pints of blood donated each day.

Twenty-three minutes after he started, Malone is finished with his donation. He has a few less red blood cells in his body, but that is nothing new to him.

And now that his blood has been collected, Maloy said it will be sent to one of several Red Cross laboratories and separated into three components - red cells, platelets and plasma.

Samples of Malone's blood will be sent for testing to ensure it is safe for patients. Once given the OK, his blood components will be sent to hospitals for doctors to decide how it is used.

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

Tips for First Time Donors

Following a few recommendations from the American Red Cross can help make a blood donation experience as safe, successful and pleasant as possible.

For more information about what to expect during donating, what happens to donated blood and more, visit www.redcrossblood.org.

Before The Donation

• Eat healthy. Maintain a healthy iron level by eating iron rich foods, such as red meat, fish, poultry, beans, spinach, iron-fortified cereals and raisins.

• Get a good night's sleep.

• Drink an extra 16 oz. glass of water or nonalcoholic fluids before the donation.

• Eat a healthy meal before donating. Avoid fatty foods, such as hamburgers, fries or ice cream before donating. Fatty foods can affect the tests done on blood. If there is too much fat in blood collected, the donation can't be tested for infectious diseases and will not be used for transfusion.

• Platelet donors should remember that their systems must be free of aspirin for two days before donation.

• Bring a donor card, driver's license or two other forms of identification.

During The Donation

• Wear clothing with sleeves that can be raised above the elbow.

• Let the person taking the blood know of an arm preference and show them any good veins that have been used successfully in the past to draw blood.

• Relax, listen to music, talk to other donors or read during the donation process.

• Take the time to enjoy a snack and a drink in the refreshments area immediately after donating.

After The Donation

• Drink an extra four 8-ounce glasses of liquids and avoid alcohol over the next 24 hours.

• Remove the wrap bandage, if there is one, within the next hour.

• Keep the strip bandage on for the next several hours.

• To avoid a skin rash, clean the area around the strip bandage with soap and water.

• Do not do any heavy lifting or vigorous exercise for the rest of the day.

• If the needle site starts to bleed, apply pressure to it and raise the arm straight up for about five to 10 minutes or until bleeding stops.

• Those who experience dizziness or lightheadedness after donation should stop what they are doing and sit down or lie down until feeling better. Avoid performing any activity where fainting may lead to injury for at least 24 hours.

• Call (866) 236-3276 to report any additional health information that was forgotten, if there are any problems or if medical care was necessary after giving blood.