02/23/10 — Weather takes toll on blood donations

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Weather takes toll on blood donations

By Becky Barclay
Published in News on February 23, 2010 1:46 PM

The holidays and severe winter weather have taken their toll on the country's blood supply, although donations in Wayne County seem to be holding steady, local Red Cross officials announced this week.

Supplies were dangerously low nationwide and across the state in mid-January, said Tammy Forrester, health and safety director with the Wayne County chapter of the American Red Cross. The supply is a little better now, but still dwindling, she said.

Types O negative and B negative are in the most desperate need, Ms. Forrester said.

"That's because these two blood types are the most prominent among our population," she said. "O negative is the universal blood type and when B negative runs low, then people can receive O negative."

The holidays usually affect blood supplies because that's when children are out of school and people are traveling more, Ms. Forrester said.

But even with the shortage, local donors are coming out in force to meet the need, she said.

"Blood donors in Wayne County are doing more than their share and helping us out with our blood needs," Ms. Forrester said. "They come out faithfully and regularly."

For those who might have safety concerns, donating blood is a safe process, Ms. Forrester said. A new, sterile needle is used for each donor and thrown away after one use.

The entire process, from the time the donor walks in the door until he leaves, takes about an hour and 15 minutes.

Donors may give blood every 56 days. Those giving double red cell donations may give every seven days, up to 24 times a year.

Donors must be at least 17, weigh at least 110 pounds and be in good general health.

Before a donation, donors should keep their iron levels up by eating iron-rich foods such as spinach, red meat, fish, poultry, beans, iron-fortified cereals and raisins. Getting a good night's sleep and drinking an extra 16 ounces of water or other fluids also are important, officials say.

Also, eat a healthy meal before the scheduled donation time, avoiding fatty foods such as hamburgers, fries and ice cream.

When donating blood, be sure to wear clothing with sleeves that can be raised above the elbow.

After giving blood, you should drink plenty of fluids over the next 24 to 48 hours to replenish those you lost during the donation. Also, avoid strenuous physical activity or heavy lifting for about five hours after you have given blood.

For more information about giving blood, call the Red Cross office at 735-7201.

The following is the Bloodmobile schedule for March for the Wayne County chapter of the American Red Cross:

March 6: Berkeley Mall from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

March 9: Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, 1175 Wright Brothers Ave. (old officers' club building) from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Red Cross chapter, 600 N. George St., from 1:30 to 6 p.m.

March 11: Meadow Lane Elementary School from 2 to 6:30 p.m.

March 16: Charles B. Aycock High School from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

March 18: Pizza Hut from 2 to 6:30 p.m.

March 19: Sam's Club from 1 to 5:30 p.m.

March 25: Northwest Elementary School in Pikeville from 2 to 6:30 p.m.

March 30: Mount Olive College from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Southern Wayne High School from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.