Help a Virginian: Make a blood donation this holiday season

9

Shawn Nowlin
shawn.nowlin@ourvalley.org

Twenty-three people, including this Salem resident, donated blood in memory of Dale Smith last year. Smith was a longtime parking lot attendant at Mac & Bob’s.

Blood donation centers such as the American Red Cross are encouraging the Salem community to give to others this holiday season by donating blood.

While it’s true that all blood types are desperately needed, there is a critical demand for type O blood donors. Whole blood, which is the most common donation, can be separated into three components: red blood cells, platelets and plasma.

Compared to last year, the Red Cross collected about 17,000 fewer blood and platelet donations this past September and October.

“Locally, we need to collect nearly 570 pints each day to provide lifesaving blood to area hospital partners. The Red Cross critically needs donors to be the lifeline that patients need this holiday season,” said Bernadette Jay, the External Communications Manager of the Virginia Donor Services Region.

Of the estimated 38 percent of eligible donors in the country, only eight percent donate on a regular basis. Those who give blood or platelets through December 18 will receive a $5 Amazon Gift Card, courtesy of Suburban Propane.

“We are always encouraging first-time donors to get involved with our lifesaving mission. We partner with high schools that sponsor blood drives. Many of the donors that I meet tell me that they started off as teenagers,” Jay said. “If you have the sniffles, we encourage you to wait until you are feeling better to donate. We want the experience to be pleasant for the donor as well as the recipient.”

All donors must weigh at least 110 pounds and be in general good health. Donors 18 and younger may have to meet additional height and weight requirements. Walk-ins are always welcome.

“Growing up, my mother routinely told me that there are plenty of ways that you can make a difference in the world that don’t require any money. Donating blood is a great way to give back to those in need,” Amy Smith, 20, of Roanoke County, said.

People usually go through a three-step process when they are ready to donate: registration, health history background and the actual blood donation. Light refreshments are offered to replenish fluids. The entire process takes roughly an hour. Once blood is donated, it is sent to a testing lab. After that, it is delivered to hospital partners where it can be transfused to patients.

“Eligible donors should donate blood because of the patient on the receiving end. Blood simply can’t be manufactured in a lab. The only way to ensure that lifesaving blood is available is for people to donate,” said Jay before adding, “There are some people who are terrified of needles, and that keeps them from donating blood. But I would encourage those individuals to think about the patient on the receiving end. If you’re in need of blood the last thing you’re worried about is the pinch of the needle.”

In addition to texting the words “BLOODAPP” to 90999, interested individuals can also learn more information by contacting (800) 448-3543 or visiting www.redcrossblood.org.