Serving the Big Horn Basin for over 100 years

Donating blood equals saving lives

WORLAND – Community members interested in donating blood have the opportunity, every two months to do so at the Worland Senior Citizens Center. The next blood drive by Vitalant, formerly known as United Blood Service, is Feb. 19 at the senior center from 11 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. with the Washakie Hospital Auxiliary members assisting the Vitalant team.

According to the Vitalant website, Vitalant, one of the nation’s oldest and largest nonprofit community blood service providers, supplies comprehensive transfusion medicine services to nearly 1,000 hospitals and health care partners for patients in need across 40 states.

Local contact for Vitalant, Judy Council, stated that anyone interested in setting up an appointment to donate during the blood drive in February can call her at 347-9388 but that an appointment is not required. “Between the people that sign up and those that walk in we are averaging 34-35 [per blood drive] but we could use more because they are low on blood right now for the hospitals,” Council said. She added that while all blood types are in demand, the negative blood types are always being sought after.

The reason that the negative blood types are so sought after is because only a small part of the population has it. According to the Vitalant website:

— 39 percent of the population has O positive.

— 9 percent of the population has O negative.

— 30 percent of the population has A positive.

— 6 percent of the population has A negative.

— 9 percent of the population has B positive.

— 2 percent of the population has B negative.

— 4 percent of the population has AB positive.

— 1 percent of the population has AB negative.

Council stated that before donating blood it is recommended that the donor is properly hydrated and has eaten. Vitalant states that a healthy low-fat meal is recommended within two hours of donating and that a salty snack should be eaten the day before because about a gram of salt is lost when donating. Eight – 16 ounces of non-caffeinated, non- alcoholic beverages should be drunk at least one hour before donating.

Vitalant also states that caffeinated sodas, coffee, tea and energy drinks should be avoided or limited on the day of donation.

The donation process consists of several steps: check-in, completing a health screening and questionnaire, after that the results of the screening and questionnaire will be reviewed. Once the donor has been considered eligible a donor care specialist will prepare the equipment, clean the area on the arm and insert a sterilized needle where samples of blood will be taken for testing. Then the donor sits back and waits for the pint bag to fill which takes about 10-15 minutes. After the procedure is over the donor is encouraged to replenish fluids. The blood donated will then be typed, tested, processed and distributed.

To save time on the check-in and health screening, donors can visit the Vitalant website to complete a pre-screening. Council stated that once the pre-screening is complete on the website, you have two choices, either print out the picture code and bring it with you or have it ready on a handheld device. “It saves about 20 minutes,” Council said.

To be eligible to donate blood, donors must be at least 16, have a photo ID, weigh at least 110 pounds, be in good health, not be under the influence of alcohol or recreational drugs and haven’t donated in the last eight weeks. People with colds or the flu are ineligible at the time until feeling better and pregnant or women who were pregnant in the last six weeks are also ineligible.

Council recommends bringing your 16 and over children with you to donate. “The last blood drive a lady brought her son with her, he was 16 and he donated,” Council said. “If a student comes in by themselves they have to have a permission slip signed by their parents.”

Vitalant states, “Each year, nearly 5 million Americans need blood transfusions. Blood helps trauma and burn patients, premature infants, heart surgery patients, organ transplant recipients and those fighting cancer, among others. In emergencies, it’s the blood already on hospital shelves that saves lives. Donating blood is one of the easiest ways to give back to your community. If you’ve never donated blood before, we encourage you to try! We’ll guide you through every step and answer any questions.”

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