Blood donation helps save lives at hospital

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Is it possible for an average person, by simply lying in a comfortable chair, to save four lives in 15 minutes?

It is during a blood drive.

The Memorial Hospital (TMH) in Craig, along with Bonfils Blood Center, is sponsoring the first blood drive of the year in the area. The drive will be held from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Thursday in the board room of the Moffat County School District administration building.

"The blood drive is a cooperative effort between TMH and the Yampa Valley Medical Center in Steamboat. We help each other out if our supply runs low to make sure we take the best care of our community," said Linda Griffith, TMH lab department manager.

In the past year, TMH used 223 units of blood and 25 units of frozen plasma and platelets. Normally, TMH blood donors donate about 85 units of blood during each blood drive.

One unit of blood is equivalent to one pint, the amount of blood a person will donate during a visit. Each unit is tested in TMH laboratories and separated into four parts.

The first is red blood cells, which transport oxygen, and are used for a patient in surgery or someone with severe anemia. Red cells have a shelf-life of 42 days.

Plasma is the second part and it is the fluid portion of the blood and is used to help burn patients.

The third part, platelets, helps blood clot and has to be used three to five days after donation. Platelets are given to cancer patients.

The fourth part is cryoprecipitate which is used to treat hemophilia and measles.

"Only people can manufacture blood. There is no substitute. Since money cannot take its place, donations are very important," said TMH Community Relations Director Heather Houseworth. "The 35-day lifespan of whole blood causes a need for a constant supply of donors in order to have a sufficient quantity of the right type of blood available when needed.

"Be a hero donate blood."

According to Bonfils Blood Center Communications Manager Jessica Maitland, potential donors should eat a well-balanced meal four hours before donating and drink plenty of fluids, especially water, up to the time of donation. After donating, eat another good meal.

To be considered for donation, donors must:

Be 18 years old, 17 with parental consent.

Weigh at least 110 pounds.

Be in good general health.

Answer a group of questions in regards to health and lifestyle that are strictly confidential.

Houseworth said the procedure is safe as all needles and equipment are sterile and thrown out after each use.

The Colorado State Patrol also plays a role in the blood drive.

"The Colorado State Patrol aids in this effort by their immediate response to our calls," Griffith said. "They deliver the units between hospitals to make sure we don't miss any critical seconds."

To schedule an appointment or for more information, contact TMH at 824-9411.

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