Avera Medical Minute AMcK: International Blood Donor Day encourages people to donate blood and save lives

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Across the globe, people are celebrating World Blood Donor day and helping save lives. Around 112.5 million blood donations are collected every year.

“Our need for blood never stops,” said Dawn VerHoeven, laboratory operations manager for Avera McKennan.

Blood products help save millions of lives each year. As VerHoeven explains, having a steady supply of blood products on hand at all times is critical.

“Whether it be traumas, again unfortunately, there are motorcycle accidents that are going on out there -- an expiration date on a unit of red blood cells is only 56 days. On a unit of platelets, it’s only five days,” said VerHoeven.

VerHoeven says blood donations tend to dip in the summer months.

“The scales are tipped upside down in terms of usage and donations. We are looking to boost those supplies,” said VerHoeven.

A blood donation can help patients suffering from life-threatening conditions live longer and with a higher quality of life. It also supports complex medical and surgical procedures.

“Blood products aren’t something that you can manufacture. They simply come from the donation of volunteers,” said VerHoeven.

An adequate supply can only be ensured through regular donations by voluntary donors, like Michelle Robinson.

“I kinda call it my spa day. They keep this warm. The machines will beep if they are not warm; it is just a smoother donation if they keep you warm. That is why they cater to you,” said Robinson.

Robinson’s been donating on a regular basis since 2007. The little bit of time she sets aside to donate may help save or prolong the life of someone else.

“It is a nice reward. It is nice that somebody that needs it will end up getting my product in a couple days,” said Robinson.

A simple blood donation usually takes 15 to 20 minutes.

“Individuals 17-years-old or older, or 16-years-old with parental consent, are eligible donors. The qualifications for blood donors are that you’re feeling well and healthy. There are select medications that you cannot be on. If you have any questions, just simply call us,” said VerHoeven.

“Come in and do it. It is a simple process. The people that work in here do a nice job. They are good at what they do. It helps saves lives,” said Robinson.

Nearly 12,000 donor units are collected annually at the Avera McKennan Blood Bank. Walk-in donations are accepted Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. or you can make an appointment.

For more information, just call 877-AT-AVERA.