Blood typing offered at 9Health Fair

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The 9Health Fair is Colorado's largest, most-trusted non-profit health fair program, offering services in more than 160 sites and impacting more than 1.7 million lives. This year, March 31 will mark the 28th annual health fair in Steamboat Springs.

Yampa Valley Medical Center sponsors and coordinates the local 9Health Fair. Lisa Bankard, wellness director for YVMC, said the health fair is a great opportunity for people to have blood tests at a very low, affordable price.

"I have heard many testimonials from past participants who found out about prostate cancer or skin cancer through the screenings offered at the 9Health Fair," she added.

For example, the 31-component blood chemistry screening - which analyzes major organ functions such as kidney, liver, thyroid and cholesterol - is only $30. Bankard cautions that the services offered at the 9Heath Fair do not replace the need for annual check-ups. The screenings do, however, offer an opportunity for people to take a more personal responsibility for their own health.

Created by the National Institutes of Health project and 9News, the 9Health Fair offers free and low-cost education and basic health screenings promoting health awareness. Each year, YVMC strives to offer a new feature for local participants. This year is no different. Blood typing will be offered for $20.

According to James Wirta, Yampa Valley Medical Center's supervisor of transfusion services, blood typing is a way to classify blood into different groups. A person is either A, B, AB, or O.

You also may have a protein on your red cells, called Rhesus factor, or Rh factor for short. If you have this protein, you are Rh positive; if you lack it, you are Rh negative. Put the different classifications together and you have A Positive, O Negative, and so on.

O Negative blood is considered the "universal donor" because that blood type can safely be given to people with any other blood type. AB positive is considered the "universal receiver." People with this blood type can be transfused with all other blood types.

About 40 percent of the population is O positive, and A positive is nearly as common. Only about 7 percent of the population is O negative, so it is very important for people with this type to donate lifesaving blood that can be used in emergencies.

Free educational material will be offered at the fair. Some of the health organizations that will be represented include the American Cancer Society, Yampa Valley Autism Program, Yampa Valley Medical Center Mammography, First Impressions of Routt County, Horizons, BOCES, Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association and the Alzheimer's Association.

9Health Fair also will unveil its new "Health Portfolios" at this year's fair. The portfolios will replace the old plastic bags and are designed for participants to store and track their annual 9Health Fair results and other health-related information in a secure place.

Mindy Fontaine is public relations coordinator at Yampa Valley Medical Center.

If you go

The 9Health Fair will be held in Steamboat Springs on Saturday, March 31 from 8 to 11 a.m. at the Steamboat Springs Middle School. Low-cost blood tests, blood typing and free health screenings will be offered on a first-come, first-served basis. Visit the 9Health Fair Web site at www.9healthfair.org to check locations and screenings offered at other sites throughout the state.

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