An article in the Democrat & Chronicle yesterday procalimed that a "shrinking pool" of blood donors in the New York and Pennsylvania region is "making it harder for the American Red Cross to collect blood year-round." Blood types were rationed on three occasions this past summer, according to the article. Of the 38 percent of Americans who are eligible to give blood, only about 5 percent actually get out and do so. Supplies for all blood types except B- and B+ are low and if not soon replenished could lead to a blood emergency. On and on the article goes, citing bleak figures and the need for more people to get out and give blood.
Joe Naples said that isn't necessarily the case in Genesee County.
"We didn't have to ration here," said Naples, the account manager for the Blood Services Division of the American Red Cross. "Batavia is a great town to do blood drives."
Batavia may not turn out the most bodies, he explained, but there is a very high per capita participation" and the donors are very loyal.
"We see the same people coming by each time," he said.
Nevertheless, more donors are always needed.
There are two ways to find out where drives are going on in your area, said Naples. (A list of upcoming drives in Genesee County is listed below.) You can visit Donate Blood Now online. Or you can call 1-800-GIVE-LIFE.
For some folks, finding out if they are eligible to give blood might be the first step. Judith Nagel is the executive director of the Genesee County Chapter of the American Red Cross. She says that folks can call that same 800 number to find out if they are eligible.
Most people are, she says. You have to be 17 years old and 105 pounds and generally healthy. Anyone who may have recently been tatooed would have to wait some months before they can give blood. But there are many people who think they may not be eligible when, in fact, they are. There are some medication restrictions, says Nagel, but people on high blood pressure meds, diabetics and recovered cancer patients are all eligible to donate.
So what keeps people from the needle? Well... that's just it: the needle.
"Fear," says Nagel. "But once you donate, the prick is so momentary."
Besides, she says, donors are pampered. Once they give up their pint they get cookies and juice and a sticker and a whole cast of folks waiting in line to give them kudos.
"I mean really, who can turn down cookies and juice," she says. "All the Lorna Doones you can eat. The feeling of giving the gift is so amazing that once you get over the fear of getting pricked by a needle, the reward is tremendous."
If you're finally willing to take that plunge, here's a list of upcoming blood drives in Genesee County (note there are two drives today in Batavia and Oakfield):
September 12 (today):
- Oakfield United Methodist Church, 2 S. Main St., Oakfield: 1:30 to 6:30pm
- Batavia VA Medical Center, 222 Richmond Ave., 9:00am to 3:00pm
- Pembroke Community Center, 116 Main Road, Corfu: 1:30 to 6:30pm
- Stafford Fire Dept., Route 5, Stafford: 9:00am to 2:00pm
- Chapin Manufacturing, 700 Ellicott St., Batavia: 9:00am to 2:00pm
- Pavilion Fire Dept., Route 19, Pavilion: 2:00 to 7:00pm
- Northgate Free Methodist Church, 350 Bank St., 2:00 to 7:00pm