Blood donors are in short supply between Dec. 27 and Jan. 8, according to Sue Thew of Arizona's United Blood Services. To shore up flagging donations, a series of blood drives are being held.
"These three drives have been critically scheduled to help meet the need in the 14 most difficult days to get donations," Thew said.
A variety of factors contribute to the drop in participation and the number of blood drives, including holiday vacation schedules, the increase in church activities and the cold and flu season.
"We're hit from every angle," Thew said. "It's always a constant struggle."
"Code red" blood drives are being held in the Rim country this week to meet the high demand.
"The month of January is the highest blood usage month of the year due to our influx of winter visitors," Thew said.
The first drive was held at the Mazatzal Casino bingo hall. Luci Shaw coordinated the casino's campaign.
"We had 38 units donated," Shaw said. "I considered it very successful and was very pleased with the community turnout. It was very gratifying."
She said the casino likes to participate in the program because it is such an important community service.
The blood donated to United Blood Services goes to 53 hospitals throughout the state, providing 80 percent of the blood supply statewide. The Payson area gets 100 percent of its blood supply from United Blood Services.
"On average, Payson Regional Medical Center requires about 900 blood transfusions per year," Thew said. The number does not include those patients transferred to other hospitals for additional treatment.
United Blood Services hopes to collect 171 pints in the Rim country during the three January blood drives, Thew said.
Thew said "power red donations" are being conducted throughout the blood drive campaign.
"Donors who meet certain eligibility requirements can increase blood supplies more quickly by trying a ‘power red' donation," she said. "A ‘power red' donation provides patients with increased quantities of red blood cells, the most needed component of whole blood."
Donating blood is safe, it's simple, and it saves lives. Most donors find it a painless experience.
A brief interview is the first step. You'll be asked about your medical history and current health. Next, your temperature, blood pressure, pulse and blood hemoglobin level are checked.
United Blood Services uses special blood collection technology and tools to customize the donation process for each donor and to best match donations to community needs.
Depending on the system used, donation times vary. You'll relax in a comfortable chair while a technician collects your blood in a special container. All blood-donating equipment is sterile, and used only once. You cannot contract AIDS or any other disease by donating blood.
Afterward, donors are encouraged to rest and enjoy a light refreshment before getting back to their normal routines.
Medical advances and modern surgical techniques, such as cancer treatments, organ transplants, and open heart surgery, have increased the need for blood.
Blood may be separated into several different components, which may be used to treat a variety of medical conditions or illnesses. Among these are:
- Red Blood Cells: anemia
- Platelets: leukemia, cancer
- Plasma: blood clotting disorders
- Cryoprecipitate: hemophilia
Donations are accepted from those who are: 17 or older; weigh at least 110 pounds, have not donated in the past eight weeks, and are not currently taking antibiotics, and who have current identification containing a legal name and one of the following: date of birth, social security number, United Blood Services assigned donor number, or photo of the donor.
You may not donate if you:
- Have cold or flu symptoms on the day of donation or do not feel well;
- Have ever used a needle to take nonprescription drugs;
- Had hepatitis after the age of 11;
- Ever had a positive Hepatitis B or C test;
- Are at risk of catching or spreading the AIDS virus.
Established in 1943, United Blood Services is a nonprofit organization that holds mobile and in-center blood drives to supply local hospitals the blood components they need. It works with schools, businesses and churches to educate the community on the importance and need of blood.
The corporate office is located in Scottsdale.
To meet the blood need in Arizona, where it supplies more than 80 percent of hospitals, United Blood Services needs 650 donors a day to contribute the gift of life.
Rim residents have two more opportunities to donate blood this week: The Pine/Strawberry Community Blood Drive will be from noon to 6 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 4 at the First Baptist Church gym in Pine. Call Daryl for an appointment, (928) 607-1242.
The Payson Community Blood Drive is from 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 6 at the Church of the Nazarene, 200 E. Tyler Parkway. Call Cora for an appointment, (928) 474-8081.
All those who give blood at these drives will receive a free T-shirt from United Blood Services.