Mt. Vernon Register-News

January 3, 2008

Need a New Year's Resolution? Give blood


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By MARY KAYE DAVIS

mary.kaye@register-news.com



MT. VERNON — If you are in need of a New Year’s resolution which will help others, Garry Allison has an idea.

Give blood.

And, with blood supplies low, stymied because of the recent holidays, this month is the perfect month to begin your resolution, said Allison, senior recruitment manager with the American Red Cross.

“The need for donating blood never takes a holiday,” Allison said Monday. “During holidays people are busy doing other things and the donations are limited. The American Red Cross has to collect about 1,000 units of blood daily to keep up with the demand.”

The ARC office also shuts down for two days during the holidays, which adds to the shortage.

“The need is still there, however the supply is not,” he said. “Therefore creating shortages for weeks to come.”

Mt. Vernon Christian School is one of the entities sponsoring a blood drive in January. The drive will be held 2 to 6 p.m. Jan. 16 at the Woodland Drive School, off Illinois 37 South.

School Principal Tim Reynolds said this is the fourth year the school has hosted a blood drive.

“It is such an easy way to help someone else with a gift you can’t put a price on,” Reynolds said. “We like to encourage our staff, older students, parents, church members and the general public to take a half hour of their time to donate blood.”

Reynolds said the drive also is an opportunity for the high school students to volunteer their time. The Red Cross utiltizes them to help with the sign-up process and hand out refreshments to people after their donations.

“It’s a way for us to allow our facilities to be used for a good cause and to give back to the public as they have been supportive of us through the years,” Reynolds said.

As of Monday, Allison said that area hospitals do have a limited supply of blood, however, available O-negative and B-negative supplies are currently in need, with the available supply being under a day.

“The average car accident (victim) uses between four and 20 units of blood products. A few bad accidents and we could be wiped out,” Allison said.

And when no blood is available, Allison said cancer treatment and other elective surgeries could be postponed.

Individals can donate every 56 days, six times a year, and each donation can potentially save about three lives. Allison also noted that every two seconds in the U.S., someone needs a blood transfusion.

“The blood is separated into three components: red blood cells, platelets, and plasma,” Allison explained. “Therefore, potentially saving a car accident victim, allowing a person to have a cancer treatment, and help a burn victim or transplant patient.”

Cancer patients use about 80 percent of the collected platelets, according to Allison.

“The average person only donates once a year,” Allison said. “If everyone who is eligible to donate blood would make it their New Year's Resolution to donate blood we would have a stable blood supply year round.”

There is only a 30% chance a first time donor will return to donate blood, Allison said.

Other upcoming blood drives include:

n Today: Belle Rive Missionary Baptist Church from 3 to 7 p.m.;

n Jan. 9: Applebee’s from 3 to 7 p.m.;

n Jan. 15: Whittington Church from 2 to 7 p.m.;

n Jan. 21: Dahlgren Fire Department from 2 to 6 p.m.;

n Jan. 29: Hamilton Memorial Hospital in McLeansboro from 2 to 6 p.m.

n Jan. 30: Sesser First United Methodist Church from 2:30 to 6:30 p.m.

The American Red Cross is always looking for groups and organizations to help plan, recruit, and run a blood drive. To find out more details they need to contact me at 618.303.3162.