DES MOINES, Iowa –This is the time of year many people head out on vacation, but blood donations are still needed to help trauma victims, patients with cancer, and others who need the lifesaving gift. That's why Thursday, June 20th is Blood Donor Day.
LifeServe Blood Center and UnityPoint Health Des Moines want hundreds of people to donate that day. The entire process to donate takes about thirty minutes. Blood Donor Day kicks off at Iowa State Fairgrounds from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. It continues at Valley West Mall Center Court from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Donors will get goodies including corn dogs, funnel cakes and pizza.
Channel 13 News got a behind the scenes look at how donated blood makes it to patients in need.
Down a quiet hall at Iowa Methodist Medical Center, you'll find a locked laboratory. Inside is the Blood Bank. “It's usually busy. Lots of things go on," said Technician Emily Dunlavey.
"We've got lots of staff here. Pre-transfusion testing," she said.
The Blood Bank is staffed 24/7. Manager Joni Baker said, "What we see is a blood sample, and so we don't very often get to see patients."
Technicians are tasked with testing patient's blood to find the right match. "We're going to do an ABO and RH and an antibody screen on our patient, and then we're going to select the appropriate compatible units based on compatibility tables."
LifeServe supplies the blood products from donors. Twenty to 200 units go to patients here on any given day. "It depends on what patients come in and what the need is, so we might give some to a trauma. We might give some to a cancer patient. We might transfuse a patient post-surgery," said Baker.
They've never had a problem keeping enough blood products stocked on their shelves, but there's always a need for blood donations, especially in the summer. “There are times when our shelves sink to levels where we are a little uncomfortable," said Baker.
"A single donation can be made into platelets, plasma, and red cells, so you actually help three patients," she added.
You can pledge to give blood on Blood Donor Day. No appointment is needed.