A four-day-long dry spell has left the Meek Blood Center with a shortage of blood. Frances Baker, Donor Recruiter for Meek Blood Center, explained that due to inclement weather, the center went four days without having any donors. As a result, it came up about 200 pints short on blood.
The Meek Blood Center collects an average of 1,000-1,500 units of blood every month, or 50 units a day, according to Baker. In the past week, however, the center has experienced a massive shortage of blood donations. It provides blood to 15 different hospitals within a 120-mile radius of Abilene.
“We’ve had days where it was bad, but we’ve never had four days; so we’re trying to play catch up. We’ve been having to call donors,” Baker said.
Each patient typically donates one unit, or pint, of blood. A donation can be given every eight weeks and each unit collected has the potential to save two lives. It is possible, if health conditions are met, to give double units. About 75 percent of the blood donated at Meek Blood Center comes from high school and college students. Baker said that students are the backbone of their blood supply.
“It benefits anyone in need of a blood transfusion. We don’t have any way to make blood in a laboratory; we rely completely on donors. That is who supplies 100 percent of the blood used in the United States, and they’re anonymous donors. They don’t know who they’re going to help,” Baker said.
Dr. Bo Green, professor emeritus of mathematics, had been a loyal blood donor for years when he was diagnosed with leukemia. Suddenly, his role changed from donating blood to receiving blood.
He began donating in 1972 when a member of his church needed blood for surgery and turned it into a personal ministry, donating a total of almost 16 gallons.
Green said, “It’s like I’ve lost a significant part of my life. I hate that I will never be able to give blood again. I still wear my 15 gallon [donor] pin just to encourage other people. It’s such a significant thing that people need to do.”
Green is currently cancer free. His treatment required a total of 31 units of blood from the Hendrick Medical Center’s facility. He stressed how important platelet donations, which can be given every two weeks, were for cancer patients. He said they really could not live without them.
“I encourage everyone to donate blood; it’s really needed and not that bad of a thing. You get free cookies and a T-shirt. It’s just a good feeling knowing you’re doing something like that to save people’s lives,” Green said. “It’s good to realize how important it is to live a good life so your body can be healthy and you will be able to help instead of harm other people.”
Donors receive health benefits for donating as well. Baker said men in particular experience a positive change in the way they feel immediately after giving blood. It reduces the amount of iron in the blood and allows for increased oxygen levels. Donating four times a year can reduce the chance of heart disease by 35 percent.
To donate blood you need to weigh 120 pounds, be in good health and have the required levels of hemoglobin. Baker said the main qualification that knocks people out of being able to donate is travel. If the donor has been in a country with a malaria risk, such as Mexico or Haiti, within the past year, they are deferred from being able to give blood for one year from the date of their return.
A blood drive has been scheduled on the ACU campus for April 7 from 11 a.m.-5 p.m in the parking lot between Brown Library and the Administration Building. The3 Meek Blood Center is located at 1150 North 18th St. in Abilene. They can be reached at 670-2805.