Blood drive a chance to give gift from the heart

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— Hemoglobin and red blood platelets don't make the holiday lists of many people, but more than 18 employees of the local City Market are giving blood on Tuesday anyway.

The Bonfils Blood Center is setting up 14 donor beds at the Steamboat Springs Airport terminal in hopes that local residents will respond to the critical shortages of blood that are typically seen over the holidays. The blood drive will run from 12:30 to 6 p.m.

"What a wonderful Christmas gift to give life this season," local blood drive coordinator Terry Sherrill said.

Sherrill threw down a holiday challenge.

"Eric Widener, manager of City Market, and a dedicated blood donor, wanted to do more," Sherrill said. "He began recruiting employees and will be shuttling them to the airport. Would any other company like to challenge them during our next drive?"

People who have a busy schedule on Tuesday will want to call Sherrill today at 879-2081 to set an appointment. But the blood drive also will dedicate a portion of its beds to drop-in visitors.

The last blood drive in Steamboat set a record with 199 units collected from among 233 people who showed up to donate. That total was 20 units more than the previous record. Of those who donated, 28 were rookies, Sherrill said.

Some would-be blood donors aren't accepted for a variety of reasons.

If you have had a new tattoo or body piercing in the last year, or even visited the dentist within 24 hours, you may not be eligible to give blood.

People wishing to give blood must be at least 18 years old, or 17 with the written permission of a parent. There is no upper age limit, but donors must weigh at least 110 pounds. Blood donors must be in good general health and have no history of hepatitis or HIV/AIDS.

Donors are encouraged to relax at the airport for 10 to 15 minutes after they give blood where snacks and juice will be served.

Just 2.5 percent of Colorado's population donates blood, according to Bonfils.

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