Phlebotomist Chuck Fleming draws Jodee Dike’s blood Thursday at Yampa Valley Medical Center.

Photo by Matt Stensland

Phlebotomist Chuck Fleming draws Jodee Dike’s blood Thursday at Yampa Valley Medical Center.

Donors give new life at Steamboat blood drive

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To learn more about the Bonfils Bood Center, visit www.bonfils.org. Find more information about Stop and Give at www.stopandgive.org.

— Steamboat Springs blood drives have their regulars, and organizers are hoping to attract a few new ones.

“I love these guys,” said Steamboat Springs resident Darrel Levingston, who was donating blood for the 53rd time Thursday at Yampa Valley Medical Center. “I come and see them every time I can.”

The blood drive last week was the first one of the year. There was a steady stream of donors dropping by in addition to the 175 people who made appointments.

“In about an hour, that one unit of blood can possibly save three lives,” said blood drive coordinator Barbara Hughes. “There is always a need for blood.”

Hughes is a volunteer with the YVMC Auxiliary. Last year, the 85 members of the group volunteered for 340 hours to help 754 donors give 686 units of blood.

“It really makes a difference in people’s lives,” Hughes said. “It’s such a simple thing to do.”

A tragic accident or surgery could lead to anyone needing blood, and blood drives help ensure there is a supply.

Donated blood has a shelf life of only about 40 days, so Bonfils Blood Center takes the blood collected in Steamboat and supplies it to hospitals statewide. Some of it will return to Steamboat so it is available to patients like Michele Dunklin, who was involved in a near-fatal car accident Dec. 8, 2010. Throughout the course of a couple of minutes during surgery, her entire blood volume had to be replaced. She survived and is doing well.

It is stories like Dunklin’s that give that “warm, fuzzy feeling,” Levingston said he feels when he gives blood.

“It saves lives,” said donor Jodee Dike, who gave for the fourth time. “Your body makes more, so what do you have to lose?”

There are four more chances to give blood this year at YVMC. Drives will be held April 19, June 21, Sept. 20 and Dec. 6. People can make an appointment at www.bonfils.org, site code 0234, or by calling 800-365-0006, option 2.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com

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