Roll Up Your Sleeve to Save Lives - NBC4 Washington

Roll Up Your Sleeve to Save Lives

Consider hosting a blood drive



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    We host recipe exchanges, clothes-swap parties and even game nights.

    But, ever think about hosting a blood drive?

    If you’re wondering about the purpose of a drive, note this: according to the Red Cross, a person in the U.S. needs blood every two seconds.

    “Ninety-five percent of the U.S. population will either need a blood transfusion or know someone who does in their lifetime.  Only 5 percent of the eligible population actually donates,” said Communications Manager Mike Baisey of the American Red Cross of the Greater Chesapeake & Potomac Blood Services Region.  “A one-day blood drive at an office that collects 50 units of blood can help as many as 150 local patients in less than a week’s time from the donation day.” 

    Need tips on how to initiate a blood drive? 

    First, contact a Red Cross representative to help get you started.  The representative will give you a checklist, detailing how to set up the drive according to a fool-proof timeline as well as tips on building a winning recruitment team.   

    When setting up the logistics, the Red Cross recommends meeting with community officials, like school principals and church leaders, to help network and spread the word to large groups of people. 

    Additionally, these types of leaders may help in providing a facility where donors can give blood.

    Recruitment of donors is key for a successful blood drive -- asking people face-to-face gives a personal feel to the matter and is thereby more effective.  Advertising a specific date by way of fliers, social networking sites and e-mails are a few ways to engage community members as well. 

    On the day of the blood drive, your representative will bring a team with needed supplies to help set up the room.  Consider hosting a theme that day as well as serving refreshments for an inviting atmosphere. 

    (Note: see if your local party store will donate supplies and if the sub shop down the street will deliver grub for the day -- the resources are available, you just need to ask.)

    Even if your office or group of willing donors is small, keep in mind that every pint of blood counts.

    “In our region of the Red Cross, we must provide more than 1,200 units of blood every day to treat patients at more than 55 hospitals.  Blood drives are very successful and range in size from 25 persons participating to nearly 2,000.  Every blood donation can save lives, so every blood drive is successful -- whether it’s one donation or a thousand,” stated Baisey.

    If you’re unfamiliar with the time frame of the blood donation process, it generally takes an hour.  Here’s an overview paired with pointers, courtesy of the Red Cross:

    Before donating

    • Make an appointment
    • Drink plenty of fluids
    • Remember to eat a substantial meal beforehand
    • Wear loose fitting clothing that can be easily rolled up on the arm
    • Bring your license for identification purposes

    Donation process

    • Sign in and answer questions about health history, including places traveled
    • Give a list of medications taken
    • Get blood pressure, heart rate and temperature checked
    • Be tested for hemoglobin levels in a sample of blood
    • Donate blood:  the actual process takes only eight to 10 minutes

    After donating

    • Drink plenty of fluids
    • Avoid strenuous exercise or lifting of heavy objects

    Now that you’re familiar with the blood donation process, share what you know with others to organize a drive.  If one individual can save multiple lives in a mere hour’s time, think about the amount of lives that can be saved if your entire office bands together during a day’s lunch break for the cause.

    “Even as medical technology advances in today’s age, blood cannot be created in a lab.  It can only come from volunteer donors,” said Baisey. “Our mission is to help meet the needs of every patient in need of a blood transfusion.  Donors make this possible.”