January is National Blood Donor Month, but it also marks 50 years of service for the Blood Centers of Lee Memorial Health System. In honor of the milestone, the blood centers ask that you become a hero and give the gift of life by donating blood.
One in three people will need a transfusion in their lifetime, and you never know if that person in need will be you or someone you love.
"January was designated as National Blood Donor Month to encourage participation," Nancy Hendrick, community relations coordinator for Lee Memorial Blood Centers, said. "It's challenging to find donors during winter with so many people fighting illness, and the hustle and bustle of the holidays keeping everyone busy or out of town.
"There is no substitute for human blood, leaving transfusion patients to rely solely on donors to enable them to live and celebrate another day," she said.
Giving blood is safe, quick and easy. Needles and bags used to collect blood are used only once and discarded.
Before giving, donors receive a mini-physical - at no cost - to check their pulse, blood pressure, temperature and hemoglobin level. The actual draw takes 5-10 minutes and the entire process is complete within 45 minutes.
Blood type and cholesterol levels are also checked after a successful donation. All blood types are welcome.
Requirements to donate
- Must be at least 17 years of age, or 16 with parental consent; in good health; and weigh at least 115 pounds.
- Must provide photo identification with date of birth.
- Eat a good meal before giving and drink plenty of fluids.
Reasons for deferral
- If you are ill (cold/flu) or being treated for an illness; have hepatitis; or are HIV positive.
- Recent dental surgery (no infection and off antibiotics).
- Blood or plasma donation within the last eight weeks.
- If you are on medication. Check with staff for clarification on which are acceptable.
The health system uses approximately 800 units each week to save the lives of people in the community. A single pint of blood, one donation, can help save several lives since it can be separated into different components - red blood cells, white blood cells, plasma, platelets and cryoprecipitate.
The platelets may go to a child with leukemia, the plasma to a patient with a clotting problem and the red blood cells to an accident victim. Your donation will help ensure an adequate supply for children and adults who are patients within the health system.
Hendrick and her team of health professionals work from mobile collection buses, as well as four Lee County locations. Any company, community organization, place of worship or individual can organize blood drives and request a bus for onsite visits.
To find the nearest location, host a blood drive or get more information, call the LMHS Blood Center at (239) 343-2333.