The Kenai Peninsula Center of the Blood Bank of Alaska has dubbed its yet-to-be-received new vehicle the Kenai Peninsula Express.
The blood bank is in search of a dependable, full size van to transport equipment to and from off-site blood drives.
Currently, blood bank employees help transport the equipment, including donor chairs, phlebotomy supplies, health screening equipment and blood bags to and from drives.
"It is a tremendous amount to ask of staff members," manager Suzie Kendrick said.
The minimum number of donors the off-site drives receive are 20 to 25.
"In our experience, we have collected (a maximum) 70 units in one day," Kendrick said.
One unit of blood is approximately equal to two cups. A person can donate one unit every two months, according to federal guidelines.
The blood bank has two off-site blood drives monthly, but with a new vehicle, the organization could expand to four or more drives a month, Kendrick said.
She said having staff and equipment in the same vehicle would increase efficiency and reduce costs.
The blood bank is asking businesses, foundations and the public to help raise funds to purchase the vehicle.
Kendrick said the van would make travel on the peninsula easier and allow all residents to donate blood on a regular basis.
The blood bank has three forms of donation: general blood donation, autologous donations and therapeutic phlebotomy. General blood donation is simply donating the blood to the blood bank. Autologous donations are where a patient can give blood for a future surgery up to 35 days before. The third donation, therapeutic phlebotomy, is when at least one unit of blood is removed from a patient's body for health reasons.
The need for a dependable vehicle has no connection with the newly acquired 40-foot LifeMobile by the Blood Bank of Alaska. The LifeMobile is a mobile blood collection unit stationed in Anchorage.
The LifeMobile does travel to the peninsula, but if the Kenai center received its own vehicle, the LifeMobile could access areas outside of Wasilla and beyond.
The two other blood banks in the state are in Anchorage and Wasilla.
The end goal, Kendrick said, is to increase the blood supply and serve the community by taking the van throughout the peninsula. The blood bank does not want to depend on the LifeMobile only for off-site blood drives in the area.
In the past, off-site drives have traveled to Anchor Point, Homer, Sterling, Cooper Landing, Seward, Nikiski and throughout Kenai and Soldotna. With the arrival of a transport vehicle, the blood bank has plans to visit Hope, Cordova, Moose Pass, Ninilchik, Cooper Landing and possibly Kodiak.
The Kenai Peninsula Center celebrated its one-year anniversary on March 1. Kendrick said it has made great strides toward having a blood processing laboratory on site. The funds all have been raised for the laboratory project, and the blood bank now is waiting for permitting to make the goal a reality, Kendrick said.
When the laboratory is fully functional, blood will no longer be flown to Anchorage to be processed. Also, Kendrick said, in the event of an emergency, blood may be transported to areas when flying is not possible.
The vehicle will complete the picture for the center, she said, and allow for all peninsula residents to donate blood in their communities.
Donors are much more likely to visit the center if the center visits them first, she said.
"It works both ways," Kendrick said.
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