Washington Evening Journal
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Fairfield Ledger   Mt. Pleasant News
Neighbors Growing Together | Aug 21, 2018

Blood donations decline in summer, need doesn’t

By John Butters | Jul 24, 2018

Every minute counts when a tragedy strikes a community and one of the most vital medical resources for saving lives is a ready supply of blood delivered by an accredited blood bank.

Amanda Hess, Director of Donor Relations and Marketing for the Mississippi Valley Blood Center, said donors’ summer travel and vacation plans can pose problems for refilling the blood supply at the nation’s blood centers.

“It can be a challenge,” she said. “Our collections tend to drop 10 to 20 percent in summer.”

Though the blood center has not experienced any shortages, blood has a short shelf life and must be replenished frequently, Hess said.

“The donors can give blood every 56 days, but we break the blood down into four different components. Some of the components have a shelf life of only 5 days. Red blood cells have a shelf life of 42 days. So we always have a need for donors,” she said.

As a not-for-profit community blood center, the blood center depends upon the generosity of volunteer blood donors to fulfill their mission.

To ensure a steady supply, regular drives are scheduled within the communities it serves. For instance in Washington, there is a drive every 56 days to coincide with availability of donors.

“The Washington donors have been amazing. We have tremendous sponsors in the community. They are very good and reliable,” she said.

The next blood drive in Washington is scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 16, at the United Presbyterian Church, located at 209 East Main Street. The times set up for donation are from 1:30 to 6:30 p.m. The upcoming blood drive will be  sponsored by the Kiwanis Club, she said.

“The service clubs rotate sponsorships. The Rotary Club, Knights of Columbus, Lions Club, the Optimists are all an enormous help to us,” Hess said. “The center collects blood through both its host groups and its blood mobiles.” Hess said the community needs to know that while donating blood in the wake of a disaster is helpful, blood centers can’t wait to collect the vital fluid.  An adequate supply must be readily available to save lives.

“In a time of crisis, our donors are the unsung heroes saving lives. Their regular donations come in before the disaster so that we have a ready supply of safe blood products,” she said.

The Mississippi Valley Blood Center wasn’t called on for disaster assistance when the recent tornadoes ravaged central Iowa. That area is supplied by Lifeserve Blood Center in Des Moines and they did not ask for additional resources, she said.

But all blood centers are ready to share their resources and stand ready to fill a need when requested.

For instance, the Mississippi Valley center provided additional blood when hurricanes swept the coastal areas, she said.

The Blood Center is based in Davenport, Iowa, where the center’s testing, processing and primary distribution center handles more than 250,000 units of blood components each year.

They are the service provider to 88 hospitals in Iowa, Illinois, Missouri and Wisconsin. Locally, Washington County Hospital and Clinics is a service hospital as are the University of Iowa and Mercy hospitals.

In addition to its Davenport headquarters, the Blood Center has regional distribution hubs in central Illinois (Springfield, Ill., operating as Central Illinois Community Blood Center), eastern Illinois (Urbana, Ill., operating as Community Blood Services of Illinois); southeastern Iowa (Ottumwa, IA) and the St. Louis region (Maryland Heights, MO and Maryville, IL).

MVRBC collects blood at 18 fixed site donor centers and at more than 4,000 mobile blood drives held each year. The population of the Blood Center’s service region exceeds 4 million residents and donors give more than 180,000 donations each year.

 

 

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