January and the winter months are a critical time of year at the Sampson Regional Medical Center’s blood bank — more blood is needed and the number of donations drops due to sickness and cold weather.
The blood bank and hospital staff is working to spread the word in hopes of keeping blood donations coming in during a critical time of year.
The Sampson Regional Blood Donation Center currently has blood on hand, but could use donations of all blood types — ultimately a gift that could save someone’s life, they said. SRMC staff stresses the importance of continuing to give, even when there isn’t a shortage, to ensure the blood bank has an adequate supply through the holidays.
According to Debbie Gautier, RN, blood donor coordinator, the local blood bank currently has a minimal supply of all blood types available, however, the coordinator added, the blood bank could always use all types of blood to get through the winter season, a time when donations decrease and demand increases.
During this time of year, Gautier said the demand for blood increases and the number of donations usually sees a decrease. This, she said, is typically due to the busy lifestyle everyone is living. As flu season begins to roll around, Gautier added that there becomes a greater need for donors to donate so the blood bank keep their blood supply at a good level.
“With everything everyone has going on, most of our donors just don’t have the time to come in, and a lot of them feel someone else will do it,” she stressed.
According to Gautier, the O negative blood type is important to have on hand. Considered the universal donor type, anyone can receive O negative blood. The problem, Gautier explained, is that O negative is a very common blood type and when someone who is O negative needs blood, that is the only blood type they can receive.
Typically, Gautier shared, the blood center likes to collect 150 units of blood a month. This, she said, allows them to stay ahead on their numbers.
Once the blood has been donated, Gautier said there is a 35-day shelf life. But, she added, the blood doesn’t stay around that long. The majority of the donations given out from the blood center, she added, go to cancer patients. All the blood given at the Sampson Regional Blood Donation Center stays in Sampson County and is given to local residents.
Blood donation is the ultimate gift and only takes about 45 minutes for first-time donors and a little less for those who have donated before. For those interested in donating, there are requirements. A donor must be at least 17 years old with parental consent of 18 years old otherwise. Anyone who is currently taking antibiotics or prescribed blood thinning medicines is unable to donate. There is a 12-month waiting period for anyone who has been diagnosed with cancer or had a heart attack. For those who have recently received a tattoo, body piercing of any kind or transfusion, the 12-month waiting period also applies.
When potential donors come in, Gautier said they are screened. The potential donor’s hemoglobin is checked for iron levels. The center’s staff then checks the donor’s vitals and a questionnaire session is held to screen the donor. If everything checks out, Gautier said they can then donate.
Before any donation, Gautier said a good meal is recommended and after donating, the donor should drink plenty of fluids to replenish the body. A donor can donate every eight weeks. At each donation, Gautier said about 450cc of blood is drawn.
“If someone will just come donate the first time,” Gautier said, “I know they will be back to donate again.”
The Blood Donation Center is open Monday-Wednesday from 8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. Walk-ins are welcome during these hours and then by appointment Thursday-Friday. If you are interested in donating or scheduling a blood drive, call 592-2689, ext. 2253 or 3144.
Individuals can send a submission online to request more information about being a donor, schedule a blood donation time, or to find out more information about setting up an onsite blood drive. Visit www.SampsonRMC.org/blooddonor to submit information.
Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.