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January 18, 2014

Blood bank official: ‘We are in critical need’ of donations

CHEROKEE COUNTY — Blood.

It's the very substance that keeps us alive, but right now, donated supplies – used to help people in emergency medical situations – are in short supply, according to an official with Carter BloodCare, a regional blood bank that serves the East Texas and surrounding areas.

“For the first time in many years, we are in critical need,” explained Linda Goelzer, CBC public relations director. CBC is one of the largest in the country, encompassing 50 Texas counties. “We don't use the word 'critical' lightly, we only use it when we are short of almost every blood type, and it's difficult for us to get blood from other centers who might have extra to spare. Typically, if we're short, there's always some other center we can get (supplies) from, but this is the first time I've seen our fridges really empty,” she said.

“People don't realize that we don't have a huge stockpile around, but we have two, three, maybe four days' worth, and keeping a community blood supply safe and sufficient is an ongoing, growing process that doesn't stop,” Goelzer added. “So we really need donors right now.”

January is National Blood Donor Month, and outfits like CBC and the American Red Cross have been doing their best to educate the community about the process.

For instance, the redcrossblood.org website reports that shortly after British physician William Harvey discovered the circulation of blood in 1628, the first known blood transfusion was attempted, but it took nearly two centuries for the first successful human blood transfusion to be performed.

In ensuing years, strides were made, and by 1948, the Red Cross began a nationwide blood program for civilians, opening the first collection center in Rochester NY.

Nearly three decades later – in 1970, “US blood banks move toward an all-volunteer blood donor system,” according to the website.

The average donation takes less than an hour, including registration, blood drawn and post-donor refreshment, states www.carterbloodcare.org.

Donors must be at least 16 (16-year-old must have written parental consent), weigh at least 110 pounds and be feeling well and healthy on donation day. The center also requires a valid photo ID.

According to “56 Blood Facts” on the Carter BloodCare site, 4.5 million American lives are saved annually through blood tranfusions, ane approximately 32,000 pints of donated bood are used each day.

Units of blood “can be separated into various products: Red blood cells, white blood cells, plasma, platelets and cryprecipitate,” the site adds.

CBC “distributes more than 400,000 products a year,” Goelzer said. “When you give one unit of whole blood … you can get (many different) blood products from that one donation.”

However, according to “56 Blood Facts,” less than 10 percent of the 37 percent of U.S. citizens eligible to donate blood actually do.

“We like to tell people we need to see 1,100 donors a day in our territory (because) we'll see 600 to 800 requests for transfusions a day, though that can be for more than just one product,” Goelzer explained.

The highest peaks of need are between December and February, as well as during the summer months, however, donation is encouraged throughout the year.

“When someone needs blood, it's not a minor thing, it's life-altering, life-enhancing or life-saving,” she said. “It's an extraordinary thing a person can do to help another person.”

Upcoming blood drives in Cherokee County include those on Jan. 25 and Feb. 8 at Jacksonville's Tractor Supply Company, located at 1626 St. Jackson Street – Belinda Murphy, 903-574-4513, is the primary drive coordinator – along with a drive sheduled Feb. 6 at Nichols Intermediate School in Jackonsville. Coordinator for the Nichols drive is Melinda Cundieff, 903-541-0213.

Interested donors may also contact BOOKABLOODDRIVE@CARTERBLOODCARE.ORG to learn more, or call 800-366-2834 to arrange a drive, Goelzer said.

The CBC website also has a search engine that donors can use to seek specific dates or places for scheduled blood drives.

 

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