The American Red Cross held a blood drive in the University of Arkansas at Monticello’s John F. Gibson University Center Jan. 24 from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Several UAM organizations helped the American Red Cross with the blood drive. Along with the Red Cross, the blood drive team consisted of the Knights, the Medical Sciences Club, University Center staff and Student Health Services.
The blood drive team collected 51 units of blood from 58 donor attempts. Seven donors were deferred, but 21 people donated for the first time.
The American Red Cross is a nationwide blood service organization, and the Arkansas blood region utilizes this network to import blood products on a regular basis. According to Red Cross Donor Recruiter Martie Smith, Arkansans consistently use more blood than they donate.
“Blood can be imported, but only if it’s available,” Smith said. “Right now, there is a critical shortage of all blood types in the Arkansas blood region.”
According to the American Red Cross Blood Services, approximately 34,000 units of blood are needed every day; however, only about five percent of the population donates. The head charge nurse at the UAM blood drive, Ruby Campbell said many people may not donate because of a lack of education.
“A lot of people have been told myths about medications and tattoos; however, we ask that people come in and talk to us before they decide they are not eligible to donate,” Campbell said. “Most people who think they can’t donate can.”
According to Smith, ongoing research allows the Food and Drug Administration to change the donor eligibility requirements based on new data. For example, the FDA recently removed all restrictions for donors with diabetes. They have also eliminated the waiting period for people with new tattoos as long as the tattoo was done at a licensed shop.
“Anybody who was told they couldn’t give blood before; please try to give again,” Smith said. “Most deferrals are only temporary.”
Most people cannot donate due to low iron, according to Campbell. However, if deferred because of low iron, the donor only has to wait 24 hours before they can try again. Campbell recommends eating a lot of leafy green vegetables and red meat and cutting down on teas and other caffeinated drinks to restore healthy iron levels.
First-time donor Angelia Buford said she’s always planned on donating in the past, but due to health complications she was deferred. Now that she has recovered from her surgery, Buford was eager to donate.
“It does save lives when you give blood,” she said.
Buford said others may not see the immediate gratification of donating, but the experience does not take long and the pain probably rates as a two on a scale of one to 10.
Smith offered advice to those worried about the pain. “Drinking plenty of fluids before donating can help alleviate the pain,” she said.
Hydrating the body makes the veins larger and more visible, which in turn helps the medical assistants to prick donors without causing much pain. She suggests drinking two to three bottles of water at least two hours before giving blood.
Some donors experience a dizzy or weak feeling after they donate blood. Smith said those who experience this after-effect of donating usually come in with low blood sugar. To avoid these feelings or the possibility of passing out, Smith recommends eating a full and balanced meal at least four hours before donating.
“If you prepare to give blood before hand, you rarely have complications afterwards,” Smith said.
The process of donating takes little time and can actually benefit the donor. Donors are required to read over information provided by the American Red Cross on the donor process and eligibility before they do anything else. Once the donor has read the booklet, a medical assistant reviews the donor’s health history and checks vital signs such as iron, blood pressure, heart rate and temperature. Medical professionals then determine if the donor can give blood that day.
The Red Cross provides snacks and drinks for all donors to restore the sugar and fluids they lost. They also provide free T-shirts and a chance to enter a drawing for a gas card. Everyone who donates in the Arkansas region from Jan. 24 until Feb. 14 will have the chance to win one of five $100 gas cards.
Psychology major Justin Banks said a sign reading “every two seconds, someone needs blood,” peeked his interest in the blood drive. He also joked that the free gifts helped.
“I just felt like it was a chance for me to do a good deed for the week,” Banks said. “I had a free hour in between classes, and you can’t pass up a freeT-shirt and snacks.”
Smith encourages people to donate on a regular basis. The testing and processing of whole blood can take as long as 72 hours to get from donor to patient, which is a critical span of time for someone in the need of blood.
“Give and let live,” Smith said.
For those who missed out and would like to donate, the following Arkansas counties will hold blood drives throughout February.
In order to donate blood at any of the above locations, donors must have a blood donor card, picture identification card or two forms of other identification available. Those interested in donating may call the American Red Cross for more information at 1-800-GIVE LIFE or go to www.givelife.org.
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ŠThe Voice 2007
Revised 10/24/2007 02:55:54 PM — http://www.uamont.edu/Organizations/TheVoice/4_14/bloodd.htm