Giving the gift of life

About half of appointments at blood drive available

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— Residents can kick off the holiday tradition of giving early.

The Yampa Valley Medical Center Auxiliary sponsors the Steamboat Springs community blood drive from 12:30 to 6 p.m. Thursday at Yampa Valley Medical Center.

Terry Sherrill, coordinator of the blood drive, can think of no present better suited for the season.

"This is the season of giving," she said. "It's just a wonderful gift to give this time of year."

Sherrill, a member of the Yampa Valley Regional Hospital auxiliary, organizes the blood drives five times a year in Steamboat with Bonfils Blood Bank of the Lowery Center in Aurora.

Bonfils Blood Center provides 80 percent of the state's blood and blood products. The center must collect 3,000 units of blood every week to meet demands.

Each donation can potentially save three lives.

The holidays pose a critical time for blood banks as the likelihood of accidents increases with the higher volume of holiday travelers.

But the holidays often compete with potential donors' time and energy to participate in another blood drive.

"The blood supplies are always low," Sherrill said.

Steamboat's last blood drive of the year has been scheduled earlier to avoid the holiday rush.

The next blood drive is scheduled for February.

Sherrill said she is hoping for 200 donors.

Plenty of beds and screenings are available at the hospital to support a large turnout, she said.

But with the blood drive less than a week away, half of the available appointments have not been filled.

People who wish to schedule a time to donate should call Darcy Coale, an auxiliary member and blood drive volunteer, at 879-3139.

Appointments around the noon hour and after 5 p.m. usually fill up first.

Bonfils encourages people to make appointments rather than showing up to the blood drive.

Walk-ins have been turned away in previous blood drives where donors outnumbered the available time slots.

Sherrill hopes people who do make appointments can keep them and those who cannot make their appointments call to cancel. Twenty-five people did not show up for their appointments at the last blood drive.

"That just put our numbers way down," she said. "When people don't call and cancel, we can't fill their appointment slots."

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