Blood donations are constantly needed in hospitals, and, according to Alecia Lipton, Community Relations Manager at the Hoxworth Blood Center, donations can “save the life of a family member or friend.”
“One donation can save up to three lives,” Lipton said.
According to the Highland County Health Department, the Hoxworth Blood Center, based out of the University of Cincinnati, is responsible for the majority of blood drives throughout the local community.
Lipton, originally from Greenfield, said that Hoxworth is “usually in Highland County about twice a month.”
The nearest upcoming blood drive, according to Lipton, will be at the Brushcreek Fire Department on Tuesday, Feb. 11 from 1-6 p.m.
Other Highland County businesses and organizations that regularly host blood drives include Wal-Mart, Hillsboro High School, the Lynchburg Fire and Ambulance District, Weastec, Highland District Hospital, Southern State Community College, and Gold Star Chili.
Occurring during the summer, the Gold Star Chili drive, Lipton said, is their most successful.
Summer temperatures, she said, influence that success.
“There are no bad roads or cold weather,” she said.
In addition, Gold Star Chili gives donors a card that they can redeem for a free cheese coney.
“They can donate blood,” Lipton said, “and then get a coney for their lunch or dinner.”
Gold Star Chili, she said, is a “wonderful partner.”
The Hoxworth Blood Center has held drives at the Hillsboro Gold Star Chili twice each summer for the past four years.
Hoxworth, Lipton said, often comes to Highland County.
“We are there quite a lot,” she said.
However, when drives are not occurring in Highland County, she said local residents who are interested in donating blood can visit the closest neighborhood donation center, which is in Anderson Township, located at the Five Mile Center, 7751 Five Mile Road.
“During the month of January,” she said, “people who donate in the neighborhood donation centers receive a fleece blanket.”
In addition, she said donors can join the Premiere Donor Club, a free program where donors can earn points for donating blood and then redeem them for things like movie tickets and restaurant gift cards.
“It’s a way we can say thank you,” Lipton said.
After all, according to Lipton, blood donations are a crucial part of medicine.
“There is no substitute for blood,” she said. “Also, it needs to be on the shelf and readily available.”
Blood is used in a variety of ways, including transfusions, cancer treatments, and burn care.
“Blood is divided into three different components,” Lipton said.
Whole blood, or red blood cells, she said, are used for transfusions, typically following trauma or surgery.
Platelets, she said, are used in cases of severe bleeding caused by trauma, as well as for patients undergoing cancer treatment.
Plasma is most commonly used to treat burn patients.
According to the Hoxworth website, one in every seven patients entering a hospital will need blood.
In addition, the website states that “someone needs blood every two seconds,” and that “4.5 million patients need blood transfusions each year in the U.S. and Canada.”
Along with the three components of blood described by Lipton, there are also four blood types, A, B, AB, and O, with O being the type that is in most demand because it is a universal donor. (It can be given to all blood types.) However, an O blood type can only receive O blood. In contrast, type AB is a universal recipient (it can receive all blood types).
To be eligible to donate blood, according to the Hoxworth website, an individual must be at least 17 years old; weigh at least 110 pounds; feel well and healthy; and have no active cold or flu-like symptoms, such as sore throat or fever.
In addition, for automated red cell donors, men should be at least 5-1 and weight 130 pounds, whereas women should be at least 5-3 and weigh 150 pounds.
In addition, Lipton said for some people, “there are medications that would preclude them, or medical diagnoses.”
Individuals who have recently had surgery, she said, should not donate blood.
Prior to donation, individuals undergo a “brief, mini-physical” to make sure they are eligible to donate.
“We want it to be safe for the donors,” Lipton said.
Prior to donating, Lipton said, “It is most important to eat a good, healthy meal within four hours of a donation.”
She also said donors should “be very hydrated.”
And though, according to the Hoxworth website, “never thought about it” and “too busy” are common reasons given for not donating blood, Lipton said donations are “a way you can give back to your community and it doesn’t cost you anything.”
In the current economy, Lipton said, monetary donations can be difficult. However, donating blood “doesn’t affect your income.”
“It’s a way,” she said, “that you can save a life.”
For more information about blood donations, visit the Hoxworth Blood Center website at www.hoxworth.org, or call the center at 513-451-0910.