Monday Medical: Giving the gift of blood | SteamboatToday.com

Monday Medical: Giving the gift of blood

Susan Cunningham For Steamboat Today

If you'd like to keep the holiday spirit going, you might consider giving a very important gift: blood.

The first Steamboat Community Blood Drive of the New Year will be held Thursday, Jan. 11. The blood drive is hosted by UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center in conjunction with Bonfils Blood Center.

Donate one unit of blood and you may be helping up to three people, as each donation can be broken into its components of red blood cells, platelets and plasma. During the blood drive in October, 134 units of blood were collected, which helped nearly 400 people.

"That represents a lot of people our little community helped," said Barbara Hughes, volunteer blood drive coordinator for Yampa Valley Medical Center. "It's amazing to see how many people come out for the drives."

Donating blood doesn't take much, just an hour of time. And in addition to being rewarding, it can be fun.

"Some of our donors have been donating for years," Hughes said. "A few even have little competitions with friends to see who donates the most."

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Donors must be at least 18 years old, or 16 to 17 with parental approval. There is no upper limit on age. Donors must weight more than 110 pounds but less than 350 pounds, and should be in good health on the day of donation.

If you've had a recent surgery, wait for the next drive. It's best to let your body heal before donating blood. And if you've donated blood before, be sure it's been at least 56 days since your last donation.

Eat hearty meals and drink plenty of fluids on the day of donation. And don't forget your I.D.. Last year, it became mandatory to provide a form of identification when donating blood. A driver's license, work badge or even a utility bill with your name on it will suffice.

Appointments are highly recommended for the blood drive, but walk-ins are welcome, especially after 4 p.m. as space permits.

Much of the hourlong appointment is taken up with prescreening and paperwork. The actual blood draw lasts 5 to 15 minutes.

Donated blood is processed and tested in Denver, then sent to about 200 hospitals and health care facilities across the state.

Donating blood isn't all work. Donors often catch up with around-town acquaintances during the donation process and enjoy treats including complimentary Soda Creek pizza and Honey Stinger snacks after donating.

"It's nice that we get that support from local businesses, and the donors love it," Hughes said. "We want everyone to be rehydrated after they donate. Different people react differently to donating blood, and some do feel a little lightheaded. So we encourage everybody to stop in the canteen to have some snacks and relax."

If you're unable to donate blood but want to get involved, volunteers are always welcome to help check in donors or serve in the canteen.

Consider donating blood this year. You just might find out you're hooked.

"This is a great way to start off the year by doing something good for other people," Hughes said.

To learn more about volunteering for the blood drive, contact Pam Bosch, YVMC volunteer services coordinator, at 970-870-1146 or pam.bosch@uchealth.org. For a list of all volunteer opportunities at YVMC, visit uchealth.org/volunteer.

Susan Cunningham writes for UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center. She can be reached at cunninghamsbc@gmail.com.

If you go

What: Steamboat Springs Community Blood Drive, hosted by UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center

When: 12:30 to 6 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 11

Where: UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center Conference Rooms

More information: To schedule an appointment, visit bonfils.org and use site code 0234 or call Bonfils at 303-363-2300 or 1-800-365-0006, option 2. Unable to donate in January? Community blood drives are also scheduled for: April 12, June 14, Aug. 16, Nov. 8.