January is National Blood Donor Month, and for Greenfield native and Hoxworth Blood Center Public Information Officer Alicia Lipton, it’s personal when the bloodmobile makes its monthly visit to Highland District Hospital.
“We need to have the blood on the shelf before the patient needs it,” she told The Times-Gazette. “So many times when we see a tragedy, we have people that will donate that day, which is wonderful, but the blood donated that day won’t be available for use for at least a couple of days to a maybe a week later because of testing that has to be done.”
Blood donations typically drop off during and immediately following the winter holidays, she said, and every day 300 blood donors and 40 platelet donors are needed to help save lives in the Greater Cincinnati area.
She said that busy schedules, holiday breaks from school, inclement weather and winter illnesses contribute to fewer blood and platelet donations, but each month they hope for a minimum of 40 donors when they come to Hillsboro.
To Highland County’s credit, she said there were 51 donors who visited the Hoxworth bloodmobile last month.
“When you donate on Tuesday, we’re going to divide your blood into three different components,” she said. “The platelets are very critical and have a shelf of only five days and are used for cancer patients, plasma is used for burn victims and trauma patients such as people who have been in an auto accident, and the red cells are used for transfusions, like you’d see if someone is being Life-Flighted via helicopter to a hospital.”
The Red Cross estimates that although 38 percent of the U.S. population is eligible to donate blood at any given time, less than 10 percent actually do.
According to HDH Lab Manager Twila Kendrick, the process for donating blood doesn’t take long.
“It depends on how many are waiting, but typically it takes 30 to 45 minutes,” she said. “There’s a prescreening first to make sure you can donate that day, then the needle stick in either the left or right arm and you’re all done not long after that.”
She said that in addition to receiving orange juice and cookies after their donation Tuesday, blood donors would be getting a free Cincinnati Bengals T-shirt, too.
“Just remember that by donating, you’re saving lives every day,” she said. “You never know when you or someone you love may need a unit of blood because of a car accident, something as simple as anemia or as life-threatening as cancer.”
Although there is no upper age limit, Lipton said that donors in Ohio have to be at least 16 years of age with signed parental consent, weigh at least 110 pounds and be in generally good health.
“Right now, we have a donor who is 95 years old and donates on a regular basis,” she said. “He started when he was 18 and in the military, and one day his commanding officer came in with orders for everyone to donate blood and he’s been doing it ever since.”
She said people can donate whole blood every eight weeks, but for those doing a red cell donation, where double the amount of red cells is given, but platelets and plasma are returned to the donor, the time frame extends to 16 weeks.
The Hoxworth bloodmobile will make its first appearance of the new year Tuesday, Jan. 8 from noon to 6 p.m. at Highland District Hospital in Hillsboro.
It will also be in Lynchburg on Wednesday at the fire and ambulance station on SR 135 from 1:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Donors can stop by the hospital Tuesday or schedule an appointment online at Hoxworth.org, then click the “Donate Blood” button, enter either “Hillsboro” or “45133,” click “next” and select Highland District Hospital to set a time.
Appointments can also be scheduled by calling Kendrick directly at 937-393-6224.
She asked that all callers leave a message with their phone number and preferred appointment time so she can get back with them to confirm their appointment.
Reach Tim Colliver at 937-402-2571.