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St. Mary's Innovis issues call for new blood donors

Michelle Norby, a medical technologist at St. Mary's Innovis, draws blood from Denise Olson during a blood drive Tuesday. Olson gives blood at St. Mary's Innovis every eight weeks, about the minimum time a person can wait before giving blood. (Brian Basham/DL Newspapers)

When the Becker County Blood Bank started in 1952, its goal was to provide blood for members of the bank and for the community. The same can be said for today, except for the shortage right now.

"We currently have 250 donors, but are losing many due to age and health problems," Medical Laboratory Technician Vanessa Collman said. "We have a declining number of regular donors and need to recruit new donors badly."

The blood bank was renamed the C.W. Moberg Memorial Blood Bank after the doctor of the same name who started the blood bank, and then to St. Mary's Innovis Health Blood Bank, located inside the hospital's laboratory.

The blood collected at St. Mary's stays at St. Mary's, making them the only local community blood bank.

The aging donors though, St. Mary's has been finding ways to get new donors. In order to replenish the blood bank, St. Mary's is hosting a contest between businesses to help recruit donors.

"We recently has a contest between departments of the hospital and it helped our stock immensely," Collman said.

A healthy donor can donate red blood cells every eight weeks. Approximately 60 percent of the U.S. population is eligible to give blood, but only 5 percent do in a given year.

Other fast facts include, the average adult has 10 to 12 pints of blood in his or her body, and about one pint is given during a donation. One of those donations can help save the lives of up to three people.

If a person started donating blood at age 17 and donated every 56 days until he or she reached age 76, he or she would have donated 48 gallons of blood, potentially helping save over 1,000 lives.

Those in St. Mary's using the donated blood include cancer patients going through treatment, surgical patients, accident victims and people with blood diseases such as sickle cell anemia, hemolytic anemia and aplastic anemia.

Those eligible to donate need to be between the ages of 17 and 76 and be in good health. There is a temporary deferral for those traveling to a foreign country, those who have had surgery and those on certain medications.

Donation takes about 30 minutes. First, donors fill out a confidential donor health form and then complete a mini physical including blood pressure, temperature, pulse and hemoglobin. If everything is a go, blood is drawn, which takes about five to 10 minutes. Blood can be donated every 56 days.

St. Mary's Blood Bank is open for donations Tuesdays from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Wednesdays from 8 a.m. to noon. Appointments are encouraged but not required. For scheduling questions, call 847-0810.