Residents respond

Increase of blood donors in region, but need still exists

At left and below, a resident donates blood at the UP Health System Regional Blood Center in Marquette on Thursday. Donations have increased in the region in the wake of the COVID-19 virus outbreak, officials say, but the organization is still in need of O-negative, A-negative and B-negative blood types. (Photos courtesy of Rusty Bowers)

“https://ogden_images.s3.amazonaws.com/www.miningjournal.net/images/2020/03/31090952/3-31-Blood-center-2-667×500.jpg” alt=”” width=”667″ height=”500″ class=”alignnone size-medium wp-image-844311″ />MARQUETTE — Residents have come out “Yooper Strong” to donate blood to the UP Health System Regional Blood Center, officials say, but the organization is still in need of O-negative, A-negative and B-negative blood types.

“We are just asking (for) the negative blood types we really need,” UPBC Blood Collection Coordinator Rachel Heath said. “But we will not turn anyone away.”

Upper Peninsula residents have pulled together in a big way to make sure there is an adequate supply of donated blood for the 13 hospitals that the blood center serves, Heath said.

“It’s unreal how many people we have had come to donate,” Heath said. “Blood drives are more than we have seen in years.”

The process — from filling out the donor questionnaire to the physical screening measures that assess hemoglobin levels, temperature and blood pressure — takes less than an hour in most cases.

Donors can also consider platelet donation, which can take up to 90 minutes.

The blood center locations, which were already taking precautions to make sure donors are healthy and the donation process is safe for all parties, have implemented added measures in the wake of COVID-19, including social distancing practices.

“We do the temperature, we make sure you are feeling well,” Heath said. “Really it’s just those added precautions of extra hand washing, extra sterilizing of the door handles and the pens. We are just asking people to stay six feet away from each other while they are waiting to donate and limiting 10 people to an area.”

Blood center officials are asking more young people to consider donating blood, she said, and to continue to do so even as things get back to normal.

“We have seen an increase in younger donors, which is really exciting. Having the younger people coming out to donate is important,” Heath said. “We need them to develop that habit to donate and fulfill the ongoing need to continue to do so.”

For more information on upcoming blood drives and needs, or donor standards, visit www.mgh.org/our-services/all-services/regional-blood-donation or call 906-225-4610 or 1-800-491-4483 for more information

Lisa Bowers can be reached at lbowers@miningjournal.net


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