Blood donations always needed
by David Atchison
PELL CITY – It’s National Blood Donor Month, and local American Red Cross officials want to emphasize the need for blood donations.

“You can save three lives with one unit of blood,” said Peggy Mann, the community chapter executive for the American Red Cross Talladega-St. Clair Chapter.

She said blood drives are held throughout the year at different locations throughout St. Clair and Talladega counties.

“We do not have reoccurring blood drives on a regular basis,” Mann said. “But, we do try to do as many blood drives as possible.”

She said the American Red Cross tries to keep up with the demand for blood, which is great.

“An average of 44,000 blood donations is needed each day to meet the needs,” Mann said.

She said generally red blood must be used within 42 days. Platelets must be used within five days, and plasma can be stored in a frozen state and used up to one year.

“You never know when there will be a high demand (from a disaster),” Mann said. “What’s donated today could be used tomorrow.”

She said donated blood goes through a lengthy process and testing before it is used.

“Anytime is a good time to give blood,” Mann said. “We try to make people aware of that. You never know who is going to need the blood.”

Mann said donated blood is basically used for three different blood products.

“It is needed for cancer patients, accident victims and for children with blood disorders,” she said. “There are three different products we can use one pint of blood for.”

Mann said there are four different types of blood, O, A, B, and A-B.

“O negative is the universal blood,” she said. “It can be transfused to anyone regardless of their blood type.”

The American Red Cross collects and distributes blood to local hospitals across the country.

“Sixty-percent of the U.S. population is eligible to donate blood,” Mann said. “However, only 5 percent of the eligible population ever donates.”

That translates to about 3 out of 100 eligible donors regularly donating blood.

Mann said blood donors only give “on the average” about 1.7 times each calendar year.

“Blood can be donated every 56 days,” she said.

Mann said there is wide support to help the American Red Cross meet the demands for blood donations.

She said the local American Red Cross office has the support from local churches, businesses, schools and civic groups to help organize blood drives.

Individual and groups can schedule blood drives through the local American Red Cross office in Talladega, Sylacauga or Pell City. The telephone number to the American Red Cross office in Talladega is 256-362-2061, Pell City is 205-884-1221, and the Sylacauga office phone number is 256-245-3701.

She said individuals could also schedule blood appointments by calling 1-800-RED-CROSS.

“You don’t have to have a blood appointment to donate blood, but it helps to know how many nurses we need for a particular blood drive,” Mann said.

She said individuals can locate area blood drives and also set up blood donation appointments through the American Red Cross website at www.redcross.org.

“They can go local to 50 miles out,” Mann said.

The website also has the eligibility requirements for people donating blood.

“There are some clients who cannot donate blood,” Mann said. “That determination is made during the interview process.”

Some of the basic eligibility requirements to donate blood includes that the individual be healthy, at least 17-years-old, or if 16-years-old have parental consent, and weigh at least 110 pounds.

Red Cross officials said prior to donating blood, eat a light meal and have plenty to drink.

Donors should bring proper identification, like a donor card, driver’s license or two other forms of identification. Donors should also bring the names of any medications they are taking.

Local blood drives are scheduled for First Baptist Church Sylacauga from 12-4 p.m., Jan. 14; Central Alabama Community College in Talladega from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Jan. 22; Childersburg High School from 9 a.m.-2 p.m., Jan. 24; Sylacauga High School from 12-5 p.m., Jan. 31; and at Talladega High School Career Tech from 8 a.m.-1:30 p.m., Feb. 5.

Contact David Atchison at datchison@dailyhome.com

© 2013