March 28, 2011 – By LISA M. HOFFMANN, Staff Writer, The Daily News
IRON MOUNTAIN – March is Red Cross Month, and what better way to help the American Red Cross than to donate blood.
In the United States, nearly 5 million people need blood transfusions each year. By making an appointment to give blood this month, donators can help the Red Cross meet the needs of patients in the community and across the nation.
Bobbie Snethen, primary communications spokesperson for the Mid America Blood Services Division, said a first time donor will be given a donor manual and will then have to answer health history questions about their travel experience and any medications they’re taking.
The donor’s temperature, pulse, and blood pressure are then taken. An iron test, which is a prick of a needle on one of the donor’s fingers, is also administered.
If the donor’s iron levels are too low, the donor must wait 24 hours before testing.
They are then given a list of ways to incorporate iron-rich foods into their diet.
Some of those foods are spinach, bran cereal, fish, meat, eggs, and beans. A complete list can be found on the American Red Cross website.
If a donor is determined eligible to donate, they lie down a donor bed and choose the arm from which the blood will be drawn.
Staff then gauge the best vein and perform the blood draw.
“The actual donation time is 10 to 20 minutes,” Snethen said.
The Red Cross recommends those who wish to donate blood to make an appointment and allow one hour in their schedule.
After giving blood, donors go to the refreshment area for 15 minutes or so. This is to make sure they are feeling OK, and enjoy cookies and juice.
An Iron Mountain Blood Drive, sponsored by the Iron Mountain-Kingsford Kiwanis Club, will be held on Tuesday, March 29. The blood drive will be at the First Presbyterian Church (fellowship hall), 395 Hamilton Ave. in Kingsford, from 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
To donate blood, call 1-800-RED-CROSS or visit redcrossblood.org to make an appointment or for more information.
Snethen said that it is important to note that 38 percent of the population is eligible to donate blood, yet 8 percent actually donate.
“We encourage all blood types at this time, especially O negative,” she said.
O negative is the type of blood in which anyone can receive.
All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driver’s license, or two other forms of identifications are required at check-in.
Individuals who are 17 years of age, weight at least 110 pounds and are generally in good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.
“The Red Cross relies on the support of the American public in order to provide all of the services we offer,” said Greg Novinska, CEO of the American Red Cross Badger Hawkeye Region. “By giving blood, you support the Red Cross and help patients in your community and across the country.”
Residents can also donate to the earthquake relief efforts in Japan by visiting www.redcross.org.
The American Red Cross is the single largest supplier of blood products to hospitals throughout the United States. While local hospital needs are always met first, the Red Cross also helps ensures no patient goes without blood no matter where or when they need it.
In addition to providing nearly half of the nation’s blood supply, the Red Cross provides relief to victims of disaster, trains millions in lifesaving skills, serves as a communication link between U.S. military members and their families, and assists victims of international disasters or conflicts.
March was declared Red Cross Month in 1943, when President Roosevelt reminded the American public that the Red Cross is committed to providing blood and blood products, disaster assistance and emergency social services across the United States and internationally.
Lisa M. Hoffmann’s e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org.