By Stefanie Thompson
Giving blood is a very personal gift, and this time of year it is also a crucial one.
“It’s important to give blood because it’s an incredible thing how the supply and demand is so close,” said Tom Curtis, donor recruitment representative for United Blood Services. “In a typical year, the winter and summer are shortage seasons. But right now, because of the flu season we’ve had, we’re cutting it even closer.
“We need to have a constant supply because it’s used so quickly.”
Curtis estimated that about 60 percent of the population is eligible to give, but only about 8 percent do. The organization’s goal is always to increase the number of consistent donors, because “even little steps move mountains,” Curtis said.
Donating blood with United Blood Services is simple. There are minimum requirements for donors: you must weigh at least 100 pounds, be older than 17 (or 16 with parental permission), be feeling well and in good health, and have a valid ID.
United Blood Services holds regular blood drives in Lake Havasu City. Donors can sign up in advance online, but walk-ins are always welcome. Once donors arrive at the donation site, the whole process takes about 45 minutes.
Curtis said the blood collected at drives primarily stays in the community through local hospitals, but depending on the need can sometimes be shipped regionally where needed. He gave the example of last year’s hurricanes, when blood had to be shipped into the areas affected by the disasters because not enough local donors were able to give at that time.
“The process is very easy,” Curtis said. “It’s simple to sign up, and it’s a way for people to give the gift of life. Somebody you know either needs blood or will need it at some point. Giving helps us meet that demand.
“Everything we do is saving lives. One pint of blood – that’s one donation – can save up to three lives.”
There are two blood drives scheduled in Lake Havasu City in February. The first will be from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Feb. 17, at the Knights of Columbus Hall, located at 186 London Bridge Road. The second is set from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Feb. 24, at the Elks Lodge, located at 3532 McCulloch Blvd.
For more information or to schedule an appointment to donate blood, visit http://www.unitedbloodservices.org/az.