08/19/05 — Wayne Red Cross honored in region for blood program

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Wayne Red Cross honored in region for blood program

By Becky Barclay
Published in News on August 19, 2005 1:50 PM

The Wayne County Chapter of the American Red Cross has been recognized by the Carolinas Blood Region for its outstanding blood donor program.

The chapter was presented a plaque at the Celebration of Excellence awards ceremony in Winston-Salem recently.

Wayne County is one of 70 Red Cross chapters in the Carolinas Blood Region. For the past nine years, the region has led the nation in whole blood collections, said Chuck Waller, director of the Wayne County chapter.

"Our chapter is a part of a very, very successful blood collection process," said Waller, who pointed out that the Red Cross collects half the nation's total emergency blood supply.

Don Best, former blood services director with the Wayne County chapter, said it collected about 6,600 units of blood during its last fiscal year, from July 2004 through June of this year.

He said the Carolinas Blood Region collected about 400,000 units of whole blood.

"The Carolinas Blood Region supplies blood to 105 hospitals," Best said. "To supply that, it needs to collect 1,500 units of blood a day."

He said no hospital in the region had to postpone a single surgery during the year because of a lack of blood.

"It was always there available for them when they needed it," Best said.

He praised those who give blood saying, "We do appreciate everything that we are getting now, but we always need blood. People need to line up and start giving blood.

"The donor is the most important part in this whole process. If we don't have a donor, then we don't have anything. If we don't have a donor, someone can't get a heart transplant and that person who's hurt in an accident can't get the blood they need."

Waller emphasized that only a very small portion of the population donates blood but that a much higher percentage will need a blood transfusion during their lifetime.

"Only five percent of the eligible population donates," Waller said, "but about 92 percent of the population will have blood in the course of their life.

"It doesn't happen unless somebody rolls up their sleeve and donates the blood."

Waller said that giving blood "creates an awful lot of happy endings for people where there might not have been otherwise."

Best said that the blood donation process is relatively painless, no worse than a mosquito bite. And he added that it is 100 percent safe. The entire process from the minute a person walks through the door until he's ready to leave takes about an hour.

Samia Garner, blood services director for the chapter, said volunteers who donate blood are crucial to the nation's health support system.

"Thankfully there are people who, of their own volition, show up every day and give blood," she said. "And some of them have never been touched by a need for blood. They do it because they know it's a good thing and the right thing to do."

"If you're reluctant to give blood," said Waller, "just think about if you or a family member needed it."