Today’s Red Cross blood drive needs you

Published 1:09 pm Wednesday, January 4, 2006

By By MARCIA STEFFENS / Niles Daily Star
NILES - If you could save up to three lives in less than an hour - would you?
The Wesley UM church drive is the first area Red Cross blood drive of the year.
The drive which begins today at noon runs until 5:45 p.m. at Wesley United Methodist Church, 302 Cedar, Niles.
This is one of six drives each year in the Niles area, held every 56 days so donors can give on a regular basis.
This drive is the last in the It's A Wonderful Game of Life campaign to boost blood donations over the holidays. All presenting donors will receive a small gift and can enter to win a plasma screen television valued at $3,000. The drawing for the grand prize will be held in mid-January.
Most regular donors give once or twice a year, even though they are eligible every 56 days or eight weeks.
“Though someone needs blood every two seconds, only 5 percent of eligible citizens donate,” said Angie LaVanway, director of the Berrien County chapter of the American Red Cross.
But she adds, “97 percent of us will have need of blood or blood products before the age of 76.”
The average transfusion is four pints of blood, but up to 50 units may be needed for one emergency such as a heart by-pass operation.
“We're currently experiencing a blood shortage - especially for type O blood. Type O is the universal donor type and used exclusively by U.S. military hospitals. We currently have less than one half day's supply of type O blood,” LaVanway said.
Cancer patients frequently receive blood and blood products as part of their treatment. The average adult has 10-12 pints of blood and can easily spare the standard one pint donation every eight weeks.
Many people have made new year's resolutions to improve their health, LaVanway said. Blood donation gets you a free mini-physical each time you donate and more than improves the recipient's health - it saves their life!
A flu shot has no effect on donating blood. It's perfectly safe to donate blood shortly after you get a flu shot, as long as you feel well the day of the donation and you meet the normal eligibility requirements. Donors must be at least 17, weigh 110 pounds and be in good general health. Surprisingly, diabetics and people with high blood pressure can also usually give blood, as long as their condition is stable and no other medical conditions interfere.
Blood donation is just one aspect of Red Cross emergency service. It's mission is to provide a full range of programs that help people prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies. Available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the Berrien County Red Cross also provides services to military families and victims of disaster, and the Red Cross nation-wide supports military field hospitals with O type blood when needed..
It teaches CPR, First Aid, and trains most lifeguards who work at beaches and pools around the county. No other organization provides these services to the American public. The Red Cross is a key partner with first response agencies such as fire departments, medics and police agencies in prevention and planning for community emergencies. It is the only non-governemental agency charged with responding to disasters.
Donating blood to the Red Cross also ensures the continuation of these vital services in Berrien County, added LaVanway.
Should you be unable to donate blood today, another drive will be held on Saturday, Jan. 14, from 1 to 5 p.m. at the Niles District Library, located at 620 E. Main St., with the Michigan Community Blood Centers.