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Ask The Doc

February 2011 • Published in The Daily Press, Ashland WI

Q. Does Memorial Blood Centers offer free cholesterol testing or other services to blood donors?

At the time of your blood donation, we do check your blood pressure, pulse, and hemoglobin as part of your routine mini-physical, free-of-charge. We are very supportive of our donors’ efforts to achieve optimal health, and we make every effort to help wherever our services are needed. Specifically to the question of cholesterol testing, we understand that some of our nation’s blood centers offer this as a service to donors and as a way of ensuring donor return. At Memorial Blood Centers, we have carefully considered performing this service as well. However, research studies and other readings suggest a number of concerns. For example, because donors are strongly encouraged to eat and drink prior to donation (to minimize side-effects after blood donation), the cholesterol screen performed by blood centers is invariably affected by a donor’s food and fluid intake – as opposed to a fasting cholesterol screen typically performed by a healthcare provider. Testing on different platforms can produce different results that also can be quite confusing. As a result, we encourage all blood donors to maintain an ongoing relationship with a source of primary healthcare that will be in the best position to provide this type of testing and the medical counsel needed to manage the results.

In addition to collecting blood and getting it to hospitals in the community to save and sustain patients’ lives, we also provide a variety of extra services. A few examples include: we collect peripheral blood stem cells for cancer patients and for the National Marrow Donor Program; a donor recruitment program specifically helps patients with sickle cell disease; and we provide information to all donors on healthy nutrition and ways to maintain appropriate levels of iron in the body to ensure the blood donation experience is as successful as possible.

Memorial Blood Centers is extremely proud of our partnership with the Ashland community, serving as a resource to answer questions about blood donation and engaging all of the area’s generous blood donors in giving the gift of life. Plan now to donate and help meet the demand at Memorial Medical Center and other area hospitals for the blood needed to save lives.

Check out our Locations page for information on Memorial Blood Centers’ donor centers and Events for community blood drives.

Jed Gorlin, M.D. is Medical Director and Vice President, Medical and Quality Affairs for Memorial Blood Centers. Elizabeth Perry, M.D. is Associate Medical Director for Memorial Blood Centers.

Send us your questions at askthedoc@MBC.org. Call us today 1-888-GIVE-BLD (888-448-3253) to schedule an appointment, or to find out more about Memorial Blood Centers and how we partner with the Ashland community to save lives.