Desert Blood Bank Donations at 15 Year Low
The other day I decided to give blood. I had recently heard that the two blood donor entities in the valley, Community Blood Bank and LifeStream, have combined resources to form one organization called Desert Blood Services. This united organization runs blood donation centers in La Quinta and Indio, with community blood drives at schools, businesses, churches and government offices throughout the Valley.
I am pleased to report what a pleasant experience I had! The staff was friendly, welcoming and the room very comfortable, putting donors like me at ease during the procedure. I later returned to speak with the director, Nicu Cocione, about the organization.
Did you know that Desert Blood Services is a non-profit organization which provides blood products for the hospitals from Blythe to Cabazon and from Joshua Tree to El Centro? On a monthly basis, the blood bank needs to average 2,000 donors per month, and there is a great need for blood right now.
The shortage at the present time is the worst in 15 years.
According to Cocione, red blood cells have a ‘shelf life’ of 42 days; however, most of the blood collected locally is transfused to a patient within a week’s time. So the need for blood donation is urgent and ongoing. All blood types are needed. O negative is the most coveted because it’s the ‘universal donor’ for red blood cells. O negative is most often used in emergency situations because everyone’s system can accept it.
“Donating blood is a simple way to stay aware of your health,” said Cocione. “Each person’s blood is tested and if there is a problem, the blood bank notifies the donor and recommends a visit to their doctor.”
There is no maximum age to donate and 15 is the minimum (15 and 16 year-olds do need parental permission.) Donors must have general good health and weigh at least 110 pounds. According to Cocione, there are certain medications and disorders which may restrict a person’s ability to donate.
Whole-blood donation takes about an hour. That includes registration, mini-physical, health questionnaire, collection and a refreshing snack. An automated procedure called apheresis can take around 2 ½ hours. Apheresis isolates one or more component(s) of blood (red cells, plasma or platelets) for collection, and returns the other component(s) to the donor’s system.
Give a little bit of your time and donate blood. It is an easy way of saving someone’s life – and giving back to our community.
Desert Blood Services, 79-215 Corporate Centre Drive, La Quinta, is open 12 to 7 p.m. Monday through Wednesday; 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. For more information on how you can donate, please call 760-777-8844.
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