Donating blood: A life-saving hour

Having the proper amount of blood available locally can mean the difference between life and death when a major illness or trauma strikes.

But as the holiday season approaches, those who donate blood often find themselves too busy to do so.

Shelly Baylor, blood bank supervisor at the Marietta Memorial Hospital Blood Bank, said there are fewer blood donors than usual.

“Our donor numbers are down about 10 to 15 percent right now,” Baylor said, noting that upcoming holidays play a factor in donor numbers.

While the Marietta Memorial Hospital website lists the current blood supply as a “critical need of all types,” the Red Cross’ blood supply seems to be satisfactory.

Cheryl Gergely, supervisor of communication for the Greater Alleghenies Blood Services Region, said that the Greater Alleghenies region, which includes Washington County, has a satisfactory blood supply.

“We do have adequate supplies of all blood types at this time,” she said. “But we are going into the time of year when it decreases. We are encouraging people to come into blood drives.”

Marietta Memorial Hospital’s blood mobile is often out through the week encouraging community members to donate blood. It can accommodate up to four donors at a time.

“Every week, our mobile is out in the community,” Baylor said. “Next week it will be at St. Mary’s [Church], Marietta College and Kardex.”

Community members who aren’t able to make it to the blood mobile can always make an appointment to stop in at the hospital or at the blood bank, which is housed in the Physician’s Care building on Pike Street, in front of Walmart.

“It’s hard for people to donate this time of year,” Baylor said. “We’re hoping the extended hours at the blood bank might be helpful. People can stop out when they’re running errands; it’s more convenient than going to the hospital.”

Hours of operation are 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday.

For those worried about convenience, it only takes a little while to donate blood.

“For the whole process, we tell donors to allow an hour,” Baylor said. “This includes the prescreening process, the actual donation and the recovery time, which includes juice and cookies.”

Gergely said she realizes the holidays make it harder to take that hour to donate blood, but added that there is always someone who needs blood whether it’s a cancer patient or someone who has suffered a trauma in an accident.

“We want people to realize blood is needed all year long,” she said. “Those needs still go on, no matter what the time of year or season is. It’s such a small price to pay for saving up to three lives.”