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ST. MARYS — The American Red Cross of Auglaize County is honoring its donors this month in conjunction with National Blood Donor Month.
According to a news release issued by the Red Cross, National Blood Donor Month has been celebrated since 1970 and is used to “pay tribute to the nearly 11 million people who give blood each year, and encourage others to start the New Year off right by coming to give the gift of life.”
“Blood donors bring hope and promise to hospital patients who may need blood for their very life,” Sharyn Whitman, CEO of the Indiana-Ohio Blood Services Region of the American Red Cross, said in the news release. “Donors are people like you who play a vital role in modern health care by helping ensure hospitals have blood for patients.”
American Red Cross of Auglaize County Volunteer Manager Karen Jantzi said winter months present a more difficult time for donors to get out and give blood.
“We might have inclement weather,” she said. “Today (Tuesday) is a good example where the roads were bad and people that were planning on going to a blood drive couldn’t make it.”
Jantzi noted that donors are also more likely to be forced to cancel donation appointments because of illness. She noted the need for blood never goes away.
“The need for blood is constant,” she said. “The need for blood doesn’t diminish. We encourage people to donate when they can and wherever they can.”
When donors are able to make it out for a donation, they leave knowing that their time helped save three lives.
“Every unit that is donated has the potential to help three people,” Jantzi said.
“Once that unit is collected, it is taken to a lab and it is separated into its components — platelets, plasma and red blood cells. Potentially three different people could be helped from that one unit of blood.”
Jantzi said donors typically spend approximately an hour of their time to make a donation, and donors are guided through the process by Red Cross staff and volunteers.
“They need to bring ID with them, a driver’s license is sufficient,” Jantzi said of the blood donation process.
“When they come in the door, they’ll register and they’ll be asked to read some material. Once they’re done reading, they will go through their health history, where they’ll have a physical — their temperature, their blood pressure, their iron levels — all that will be checked. If they pass all of those different things, they go on to answer a series of questions, and if everything is answered in a way that means they can donate, then they go on to the actual donation.”
Following the donation, which Jantzi said lasts approximately 10 to 15 minutes, donors are treated to drinks and snacks before they leave.
In preparation to give blood, she noted that there are a few things donors can do.
“Make sure that you’ve had a good meal to eat, and also make sure that you’re in good health,” Jantzi said.
“For your safety and for the safety of the blood supply we don’t want you to donate when you’re not feeling well.”
Jantzi said donating blood is a good way to volunteer in the community.
“One hour of your time goes a long way in terms of the number of people you could help,” she said.
“I think it’s a real powerful way to help and to volunteer.”
Those over the age of 17, who weigh more than 110 pounds and are in good health are eligible to donate blood.
Donors who give blood through Jan. 31 will be entered into a regional drawing for a $1,000 Visa gift card.
Red Cross blood drives during January include: from noon to 6 p.m. Friday at the New Knoxville American Legion; from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday at The Way International; from noon to 6 p.m. Monday, Jan. 9 at Wayne Street United Methodist Church; from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 10 at Wright State University Lake Campus; from noon to 5 p.m. Monday, Jan. 16 at the St. Marys Eagles Lodge; from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Friday, Jan. 20 at Montezuma United Methodist Church.
For more information, contact the Red Cross at 419-227-5121 or go online to RedCrossBlood.org.