Every day, blood is needed in hospitals and emergency treatment facilities to care for patients who undergo surgery or suffer from disease or traumatic injury.
West Nebraska Blood Center, a hospital-based donor center licensed by the FDA, draws approximately 3,000 units of blood per year, which are transfused to approximately 880 panhandle patients in need.
Where is the blood used?
The blood drawn at the blood center is used to supply blood to Regional West Medical Center and other hospitals throughout the Nebraska panhandle.
In addition to drawing volunteer donor blood, the blood center collects autologous blood, which is blood for people who choose to use their own blood supply during a planned surgery.
In order to save lives, blood must be on the shelf, ready for transfusion. Sixty percent of the U.S. population is eligible to give blood, yet only five percent of those eligible actually do so. This is why the staff at West Nebraska Blood Center works actively to recruit and retain repeat blood donors in the community.
The West Nebraska Blood Center now accepts platelet donations. A single platelet donation can provide enough platelets for up to three people, whereas previously it could take four to six whole blood donations to produce a single dose of platelets. Many patients who need platelets are undergoing chemotherapy or organ transplants and have weakened immune systems. You can donate platelets up to 24 times per year.
How can I donate?
Donating blood or platelets is a simple, safe and easy process. To donate, you must meet the following requirements: be in good health, be 16 years of age and older, and weigh more than 115 pounds.
The following tips will help you have a good donation experience.
- Begin with a good night’s sleep the night before your appointment.
- Make sure to eat before you donation time, whether it is breakfast or lunch.
- Drink extra water and juice prior to your donation to replace the volume you will donate.
- Avoid tea, coffee, and other beverages with caffeine.
- Eat iron-rich foods such as red meat, fish, poultry, liver, beans, iron-fortified cereals, raisins, and prunes.
- Avoid fatty foods such as hamburgers, fries, or ice cream before donating. Tests for infectious diseases are done on all donated blood and can be affected by fatty materials that appear in your blood for several hours after eating foods with high fat content.
- Wear clothing with sleeves that can be raised above the elbow.
- Show the staff any “good veins” that have been used successfully in the past to draw blood.
- When donating, relax by concentrating on breathing, tensing and relaxing the muscles in your legs which improves blood flow, or talking with your phlebotomist.
Becoming a new donor is both important and appreciated, but equally important is becoming a regular, repeat donor. A healthy donor can donate blood every 56 days. Think about setting a goal of donating three to four times this year. You can even schedule your next donation – we will happily give you a reminder card and give you a call the day of you next donation.