A causality of the holiday season far too often is the Sampson Regional Blood Assurance Program better known as the blood bank. With the possible increase in accidents from holiday travel and the lack of donors, a shortage in blood usually occurs.
Debbie Finney, RN and donor program coordinator, shared that Christmas is a time when the bank’s blood supply can drop dramatically and sometimes emergency levels are reached.
“Even with the reduced surgery schedule because of the holidays, we often experience a drop in donations and that can put us in need for donors to meet our need for blood. Not only are donors busy or tied up in Christmas matters, it is also a time when many people start experiencing colds, sinus infections and other respiratory illnesses that cut back on people being able to give blood,” asserted Finney.
The Sampson Regional blood bank transfuses about 1,500 units of red cells a year. According to the program coordinator, about 97 percent of the blood used at SRMC comes from the donor program. The other 3 percent must come from an outside source. The blood collected is from community blood drives and collections done at SRMC.
“Blood drives are an extremely important part of the donor services. With everyone’s busy schedule, it helps if we can go to them instead of them having to find the time to come to us,” shared Finney.
Summer and the holiday seasons, the blood bank tends to see a reduction in collections. “It is hard to stay ahead during the summer and near the holidays due to people not having time to donate. Also, with the cooler months we have a lot of donor’s who are sick and cannot donate as well,” explained the coordinator.
The SRMC Blood Assurance Program is based in the laboratory of the hospital and has been supplying a safe supply of blood to the facility since 1976. The blood assurance program is one of three located in hospitals in the state. The other two are located at Rex in Raleigh and Cape Fear in Fayetteville. This program greatly reduces the costs to the patients who must receive blood during their hospital stay.
Blood donated through the assurance plan must be transfused within 35 days after it has been collected. All the blood collected at SRMC remains in Sampson County so it can benefit the people living right here in the local community. For this reason, donors are only called in as needed to maintain an adequate supply of readily available blood for the community and the hospital.
“Most people think that if they are on a medication they are unable to donate,” explained Finney. “This is not true. A donor cannot donate if he or she is on an antibiotic for an infection or any type of blood thinner other than aspirin. We would have to evaluate other medications at the time of donation,” added the coordinator.
Who can donate? You do not have to be a member of the Assurance Program to donate. Donation is open to members and anyone who is in good general health, are at least 18 years old and weigh over 110 pounds.
By being a part of the Blood Assurance Program, a member in good standing is guaranteed that blood credits are issued against any charges for whole blood and red cells used at SRMC. These benefits extend to the member’s spouse and family dependents. Benefits are available following the first donation. Members are required to give once a year and appointments are scheduled such to accommodate the donor as much as possible. Donors can donate as often as every eight weeks if needed.
Finney explained that it is important that if you are donating to eat a good meal at least two hours before donating.
During the donation process, donors will have their hemoglobin, blood pressure, pulse and temperature checked. An interview will also be conducted regarding health issues, travel and a few other personal questions to assure that the blood being donated is safe.
Finney is assisted by Cosandra Bass and the two keep the department operating efficiently.
“I cannot stress how important this donor program is for out community and how proud I am to be a part of it,” stated Finney and Bass agreed.
The blood bank is open from 8:30 a.m. until 4 p.m., Monday through Friday with the exception of when they are out for a blood drive. It is always best to call prior to coming. The number for the blood bank is 592-8511 ext. 8442.
“There is no better time than now to start donating. Giving blood is the gift of life. It has to come from another individual, you cannot just go out and buy it,” concluded Finney.