YVMC to host blood drive

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Anyone who might be looking for free orange juice and a cookie Thursday should consider donating blood during the Bonfils Blood Drive at Yampa Valley Medical Center.

Volunteer Bill Sauter said this blood drive will be different from most others because instead of just taking donated blood, Bonfils employees also will take blood samples from people interested in becoming bone marrow donors for the Colorado Marrow Donor Program.

Sauter said the bone marrow registry option was added to this year's blood drive because of local interest in the program.

Donor marrow is used for potentially life-saving treatments for patients with leukemia, lymphoma and other blood diseases. A transplant replaces a patient's unhealthy blood cells with healthy, blood-forming cells from a volunteer donor. Blood samples from adult donors are tested, and the tissue type is added to the registry. Doctors can search the registry when they need to find a donor whose tissue type matches their patient's.

Those interested in providing a blood sample for the bone marrow donor program must fill out a brief registration form and pay a $30 fee. Financial assistance is available for those who can't pay the fee.

Thursday's blood drive, the fourth of the year to be held at YVMC, is sure to help Bonfils' blood supplies.

Steamboat Springs is the second largest contributor of blood in the state, Sauter said. Bonfils collects about 170 pints of blood from residents every year. The only drive that produces more donated blood is the one held by the Denver Broncos at Invesco Field at Mile High.

Sauter said the Steamboat community has been very supportive of the annual blood drives, which have taken place here for more than 10 years.

"There are a lot of community members here that end up donating blood every time we have a drive," he said. "The community support here is outstanding."

Most of the drive's 200 available appointments have been filled, but there are a few time slots available, Sauter said. Walk-ins also are welcome as space and time permits.

Sauter said 17-year-olds can donated blood with their parents' permission. Donors must weigh at least 110 pounds and must not have taken any antibiotics within 48 hours of the drive, gotten any tattoos in the past year or gone to a dentist in the past 24 hours. Sauter also said people of certain nationalities might be deferred from the blood drive because of malaria precautions.

Bonfils reports that fewer than 4 percent of Colorado adults donate blood. Each unit of donated blood has the potential to save as many as three lives.

"There is a constant and ongoing need for blood," Sauter said. "If people don't donate, then there is no blood."

Bonfils provides blood and blood products to more than 115 hospitals and health care facilities, including YVMC. Bonfils estimates that it needs 4,350 people to donate blood every week to meet the needs of communities and to be prepared for unforeseen events.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 870-1495.

-- To reach Alexis DeLaCruz, call 871-4234

or e-mail adelacruz@steamboatpilot.com

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