Donors Make the Difference

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The cupboards are bare at United Blood Services. Thursday it kicked off a Blood Bonanza to raise awareness of the blood shortage in East Mississippi and West Alabama.

"We like to maintain at least a three day blood supply, and currently, we're working from less than half-a-day blood supply," said UBS Director Eddie Moore.

Everett Kimbriel started donating blood in 1961 and today reached the 14-gallon mark. He said he's just glad to be able to help.

"Don't really have any great feelings," said Kimbriel. "You just feel relieved that you're able to do it. I mean, there are a lot of people that aren't able to do this, and I'm thankful that I am able to."

Ray Owen donates blood platelets as often as he can, for his wife Christine, who was diagnosed with cancer last year. Owen looks at his donations as a personal investment in their future.

"It really makes you feel good to know that you can do something," said Owen. "And just in case my wife needs them, I'll feel better about calling on United Blood Services to donate platelets if she needs them."

"We have many donors that are multiple gallon donors that have upwards of 15 to 30 gallons," said Moore. "We appreciate all the support that those individuals have given us in the past and continue to give us. We just encourage that if you've never been a blood donor or you haven't donated in the last year, please come in during this time and help us out."

As part of the Blood Bonanza, United Blood Services will be open from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. Friday, July 26, and Saturday, July 27 from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m.

Also on Saturday, you may donate at Outback Steakhouse on South Frontage Road in Meridian from 2 p.m. until 6 p.m. Extended Web Coverage

Facts About Blood Donation

How much blood is collected and transfused each year?

About 13.9 million units of whole blood are donated in the United States each year by approximately eight million volunteer blood donors. These units are transfused to about 4.5 million patients per year.

Typically, each donated unit of blood, referred to as whole blood, is separated into multiple components, such as red blood cells, plasma, platelets and cryoprecipitate.

Each component is generally transfused to a different individual, each with different needs.

The need for blood is great. On any given day, approximately 32,000 units of red blood cells are needed. Accident victims, people undergoing surgery and patients receiving treatment for leukemia, cancer or other diseases, such as sickle cell disease and thalassemia, all utilize blood.

Approximately 26.5 million units of blood components are transfused each year.

Who donates blood?

Less than five percent of healthy Americans eligible to donate blood, actually donate each year.

According to studies, the average donor is a college-educated white male, between the ages of 30 and 50, who is married and has an above-average income.

However, a broad cross-section of the population donates every day. Furthermore, these average statistics are changing, and women and minority groups are volunteering to donate in increasing numbers.

While persons 65 years and older compose 13 percent of the population, they use 25 percent of all blood units transfused. Using current screening and donation procedures, a growing number of blood banks have found blood donation by seniors to be safe and practical.

Patients scheduled for surgery may be eligible to donate blood for themselves, a process known as autologous blood donation. In the weeks before non-emergency surgery, an autologous donor may be able to donate blood that will be stored until the surgical procedure.

Where is blood donated?

There are many places where blood donations can be made. Bloodmobiles travel to high schools, colleges, churches and community organizations.

People can also donate at community blood centers and hospital-based donor centers. Many people donate at blood drives at their place of work.

Community blood centers collect approximately 88 percent of the nation's blood, and hospital-based donor centers account for the other 12 percent.

Source: Association of Blood Banks.