Blood donations always needed at LMH

Life-saving blood transfusions are needed in hospitals and emergency treatment facilities across America each day. Patients need blood for many reasons — cancer, heart and blood vessel disease, diseases of the GI tract and emergencies such as car accidents and burns.

January is national blood donor month. The nation’s blood supply has never been lower, and the community is in desperate need of blood donors. The Community Blood Center, a blood donation organization that serves the greater Kansas City area, says one reason for the shortage is a decline in the overall donor base, with drops in first-time donors and in high school and college donors in particular. The center said the demand for blood products has also increased.

Baby boomers have primarily been the largest donors of blood. However, most are now approaching ages where they are no longer able to donate. Millennials and younger donors are generally less willing to donate.

You must be 16 years old, weigh at least 110 pounds and be in generally good health to donate. Since blood has a limited shelf life, more is always needed. A single donation can help save multiple lives.

Blood donation takes about an hour, and each donor is screened prior to donating to make sure they are healthy enough to give blood.

Faith Nilhas, blood bank supervisor, says she calls blood donors the first first responders.

“The blood that donors give prior to a crisis or emergency may be used immediately,” Nilhas said. “It has been said that Lawrence bleeds like no other. People in Lawrence are very willing to donate blood.”

Each LMH Health blood drive collects roughly 60 to 75 units of blood. Though it may sound like a lot for a single hospital, the CBC requires 580 donors every weekday to meet Kansas City-area hospitals’ needs. About one in seven hospital admissions requires a blood transfusion.

“There is no substitute for blood,” Nilhas said. “We haven’t reached the point to where an alternative for blood has been discovered, so if there is a need for blood and we do not have any, we have to tell someone we don’t have blood for them.”

Typically, a hospital likes to have enough blood on hand for three to five days. If the supply dips below this, there is an even bigger need for blood. Having a large supply of blood on hand helps protect community members and their loved ones in case of emergencies.

“If you need blood, you need it,” Nilhas said. “Lawrence is full of altruistic people. The people in this community donate blood like no other city. We are lucky to have many people who come and donate.”

Blood drive coming up

LMH Health will be hosting a blood drive on Friday from 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. in the LMH Health Auditorium. To schedule an appointment, visit savealifenow.org/group and enter the code TPJS.

Anyone who donates will receive a Kansas City Chiefs hat or T-shirt as a gift.

— Jessica Brewer is the social media and digital communications specialist at LMH Health, which is a major sponsor of the Lawrence Journal-World’s health section.

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