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Ask the Doc

May 2011 • Published in The Daily Press, Ashland WI

Q: I'm a regular blood donor and I know that ordinary people can help save lives with blood donations. But people I've talked to are under the impression that we are not in a blood shortage and don't feel the need to donate their time and blood. I would like to host a blood drive, but I need your suggestions to help people understand why it's needed.

First, thank you for being a regular blood donor! There are many people alive today because you stepped up to donate. And your commitment to recruiting others to the mission of blood donation is greatly appreciated.

As you suggest, throughout the Midwest we are extremely fortunate. We do not face frequent blood shortages, although Memorial Blood Centers does sometimes experience a greater need for donations—especially around the holidays. The fact is that every two seconds someone needs blood. Blood can be stored for only 42 days, which means that the supply must be constantly replenished. Used for everyday emergencies, blood also is critical for life-sustaining, ongoing chronic care needs like cancer. And because blood cannot be synthetically made, there is no substitute. Only volunteer blood donors can save lives. Waiting for a shortage or emergency to give blood puts our community hospital partners and their patients at greater risk, as they rely on us to deliver the right blood product when and where it is needed most.

In addition to donating blood to help save and sustain lives, during May and June there are a few other special reasons to donate as well: to honor our moms and dads for the gift of life they’ve given us, recognize a young graduate heading out to explore new horizons, or celebrate holidays in a new way.

As a mission-driven and volunteer-rich organization, Memorial Blood Centers was founded in 1948 to honor those who gave their lives in World War II. This Memorial Day could be the perfect time to think about establishing a new tradition to celebrate the day. As the first of our long summer holiday weekends, Memorial Day offers an excellent opportunity to give to others as we pay tribute to the everyday heroes who left their own legacy of saving lives. And because accidents happen 24/7 putting others in need of life-saving blood, blood donors are especially needed to give over the summer holidays.

And then on June 14th—designated World Blood Donor Day to recognize and thank the millions of people around the world who donate blood—we are all encouraged to take time to educate others about the importance of regular donations and the role everyone can play to ensure that we do not have to face the life-threatening challenges brought on by blood shortages.

Summer is a challenging time for keeping the shelves stocked with blood. So please make a date to donate with Memorial Blood Centers today. Making an appointment online is easy and convenient. Visit MBC.org and click the Schedule Now button. You can search by zip code for a community blood drive near you or make an appointment at one of our Northland donor centers, including at Essentia Health in Superior or Burning Tree Plaza in Duluth.

We hope to see your blood drive listed here in Ask the Doc soon!

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.