Blood drive makes key pit stop before holidays

By The Columbia Chronicle

Nearly 40 people showed up in the South Loop Oct. 24 to give their time and blood. Life Source Blood Services sponsored a blood drive at 637 S. Dearborn Street in order to stock up on their supply of blood before the holiday season.

“The blood drive produced enough blood to serve 102 patients. Blood drives like these provide the nation’s supply,” said Life Source Public Relations Manager Amy Gardner-Nummer. She said they only had to turn away seven people because of medical ineligibility.

Life Source Blood Services is a not-for-profit organization that is the largest full blood service in Illinois. They provide over 400,000 pints of blood and blood components to over 100 hospitals and health agencies every year.

In order to qualify, a donor must be between the ages of 17-80, weigh at least 110 pounds and be healthy. A potential donor is initially screened and interviewed to determine whether he or she qualifies. Illnesses, such as diabetes or hepatitis, will disqualify donation.

The city of Chicago alone needs an average of 1,500 blood donors in order to fulfill the needs of area hospitals. Gardner-Nummer says many hospitals will not make it through the holidays based on the scarce number of scheduled mobile drive events. Life Source currently imports blood from other U.S. sites, but donor numbers are down on a national level as well. Blood shortage is the reason people should get out and donate their blood. “You never know when you’re going to cross that line between donor and recipient,” says Gardner-Nummer.

Blood drive coordinator John McGuire says there are many good reasons to get poked with a needle. Each pint of blood donated can help save the lives of up to three different people. Men are encouraged to donate because of health benefits-two recent studies indicate that donating blood three times a year reduces the buildup of iron. Men are especially susceptible to clots in their arteries and veins, and these types of conditions can lead to more serious problems such as heart disease.

Also, each pint of blood donated is tested for syphilis, AIDS/HIV, hepatitis and other viruses. Donors are notified if any of these test results turn out positive, and all results are kept strictly confidential.

Columbia junior Jennifer Hellwig said this was her fourth time donating blood. “I have no problems with being poked and prodded. It’s not nearly as painful as people make it out to be.”

People should eat and drink something before and especially after donating. They also should avoid all strenuous exercise and heavy lifting 24 hours after the procedure. The only side effect donors may suffer is a little bruising.

If you missed the blood drive, Life Source has 22 other permanent locations in the Chicago area. The process only takes about 30 minutes from start to finish and people can call for an appointment ahead of time. The two closest locations to Columbia are the Daley Donor Center at Clark and Randolph and the Thompson Donor Center at 100 W. Randolph.