Halloween may still be two months away, but the Sampson Regional Medical Center Blood Bank wants, and needs, your blood.
Officials from the hospital issued a statement on Facebook earlier in the month, asking for donations for O negative blood. Following the plea, two new O negative donors stepped up and donated, as did several regular donors, according to Debbie Finney, RN, Blood Donor Center Coordinator.
“We are still in critical need of O negative blood,” Finney stated. “During our call for donors, we had two new O negative donors come as well as several regular donors. Some unfortunately were unable to donate.”
According to Finney, the blood center has about 20 active donors who are O negative, in addition to any O negative blood that is received during community blood drive events.
“We are always in need of any blood type, in particular O positive and negative,” Finney said. “O negative is a universal donor, meaning their blood can be used for any person needing blood, but it is the only blood they can receive back. This is why it’s very important to maintain a good supply of O negative blood.”
In addition, Finney said, O positive blood can also be transfused to all other positive blood types, which makes it a valuable supply as well. On average, the coordinator added, about 36 percent of the population is blood type O positive, while 12 percent of the population is O negative.
Typically, Finney shared, the blood center likes to collect 150 units of blood a month. This, she said, allows them to stay ahead on their numbers. On average, the blood center gives out 140 units of blood each month.
Finney explained that the blood center likes to have about 50 units of O positive blood, 35 units of A positive blood, 10 units of B positive blood, four units of AB positive blood, 20 units of O negative blood, 10 units of A negative blood, six units of B negative blood and two units of AB negative blood available to those in need.
The blood bank is down to only four units of O negative blood.
Once the blood has been donated, Finney 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.
SRMC is one of three hospitals in North Carolina that has its own blood bank and donor program. According to Finney, just one blood donation can save up to three lives. Donations take about 45 minutes.
Basic requirements for donating blood are:
• Good general health
• At least 18 years of age and weigh over 110 pounds
• Persons 17 years old may donate with parental consent
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, Finney 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, Finney said they can then donate.
Before any donation, Finney 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, Finney said about 450cc of blood is drawn.
If interested in becoming a blood donor or holding a blood drive, please contact Finney at 910-592-8511, ext. 3144.
The blood bank is open Monday-Wednesday from 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m and the second Tuesday of each month from 8 a.m.-7 p.m. Walk-ins are welcome. The center is open on Thursdays and Fridays by appointment only.
Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.