Handful rolls up sleeves

Published 12:00 am Monday, July 24, 2006

During the time of a critical blood shortage in the area, United Blood Services called on the Demopolis community yesterday, in order to make a difference in the region’s blood supply.

Although UBS collects units from approximately 25 residents on average, after almost four hours of being located outside of Comfort Care Hospice less than 20 citizens had donated blood units.

“Any day is a good day though,” assistant donor care supervisor Thomas Heblon said despite the lack of donors. “Some people showed up, but their iron was too low, or their pulse was too high. But that is just a one-day thing in most cases and they can come back to give in the future.”

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According to Heblon, potential donors were turned down because it was in their best interest when it came to health.

“It’s for their safety and we want them to come back again,” he said.

There is a chance that up to three people can be helped with just one unit of whole blood, and with a double-blood sample, there is a possibility of saving two lives.

“With a whole blood sample the red blood cells could go to one patient in trauma, and or cancer, the platelets go to a cancer patient and the plasma is used for burn victims. With a double-blood sample, the red blood cells can go to two different patients,” Heblon said. ” When you look at it, giving double blood really benefits the donor as well. Saline helps hydrate the body and it can dehydrate someone better than Gatorade ever could.”

From 1-6 p.m. Monday, Heblon and his staff, Areatha DeBoach, Lee Ryan and Birdia Handley, had much free time on their hands due to the slow pace of donors.

“It’s generally slower during the summer. But blood can not be manufactured when we need to meet the demand,” Heblon said. “It can only come from donors and most of the time the people that need blood are really on their last leg. Some people don’t donate to charities because they don’t have the money, but it doesn’t cost a thing to give blood.”