Local organizations team up for biannual blood drive

Published 10:10 am Wednesday, December 16, 2015

With red being one of the primary colors of the Christmas season, perhaps it is only appropriate that, with only a few weeks left before the holiday, locals will have a chance to give a special gift to the American Red Cross.

The relief organization will be hosting a blood drive from noon to 5 p.m. on Friday at the Holy Maternity of Mary Church, located at 210 N. Front St. Residents are encouraged to visit the church that afternoon to donate a pint of blood, which may be used for blood transfusions or other potentially life-saving uses by doctors, nurses and other emergency caregivers.

Sponsoring the drive once again are members of the Knights of Columbus Dowagiac Council 2113 and the Dowagiac Masonic Lodge. The two service organizations have teamed up for the past 10 years to bring the American Red Cross into Dowagiac for blood donations, said organizer Richard Accoe.

The Red Cross usually visits Dowagiac twice every year, once near the end of June and once near the end of December, though this year they have moved the December date up several weeks, Accoe said.

“We usually get 40 good donors every time we host a drive,” Accoe said.

Last spring, locals donated 43 pints of blood to the Red Cross.

People wishing to donate blood are required to check in with Red Cross volunteers when they enter the building. First time donors will be given a questionnaire to determine if they can safely proceed with the donation. After that, they will have plasma drawn from their arm. Following the procedure, donors will have a chance to have a snack and beverages to replenish their strength before leaving.

“Sometimes you have to wait in line a bit, but it takes roughly an hour from the time you check in until you get finished,” Accoe said.

Members of the Knights and Masonic Lodge will help set up and take down equipment for the drive. Volunteers with the Red Cross will handle the registration and blood drawing, Accoe said.

Blood transfusions are a common occurrence in health care, in particular for surgical procedures, where patients are given blood to replace plasma lost during the operation, Accoe said. A shortage of usable blood is a common problem for the Red Cross and hospitals, however, especially during the later months of the year, so people’s donations on Friday will be a tremendous help.

While not something everyone can participate in, be it due to health issues or fear of needles, the organizer encouraged everyone who can spare the time in their schedule Friday to come out and give blood.

“Somebody in Dowagiac will need blood sometime, so you’re helping out the community,” Accoe said. “It’s something to make the community a better place, which is something we should all strive for.”