After covering the dining tables with copies of a dozen handouts on topics from the most-common blood type to how much blood is used by gunshot victims, a representative of the Blood Bank of Alaska's Kenai Peninsula Center challenged members of the Soldotna Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday to organize blood drives at their own businesses.
"I'm asking you to become involved," said Amy Jackman, the center's community coordinator.
"If you have a business of your own, get your employees together. Make it something fun. If you have a company picnic or potluck, do it then," she said.
Jackman told about 30 attendees of the lunchtime business meeting that the community is a giving community, but it needs local business and civic leaders to organize blood drives in order for the community to get into the act of giving.
"We're not asking you to open up your pocketbook, we're asking you to open up your heart," Jackman said.
Referring to one of the printed handouts she distributed, Jackman said gunshot victims or people injured in auto accidents typically can require up to 50 units of blood. People undergoing cardiovascular surgery use anywhere from two to 25 units, and people receiving liver transplants can use up to 100 units.
"An auto accident or a gunshot can wipe out the Anchorage (blood) supply real quick," she said.
She said each pint of blood donated has the potential of saving three lives because three separate parts of the blood can be used: red blood cells, platelets and plasma.
Dispelling some myths about donating blood, Jackman said the process is not painful and does not take long.
"It is a three-step process," she said. "First people need to register to give, then there's the screening to see if the donor is eligible and for safety and then the phlebotomy the drawing of blood."
She said some people wrongly believe that if they've been treated for cancer, they can no longer donate blood, but that is not true. After a treated cancer patient is cancer-free for five years, he or she may be able to begin donating blood again.
Also, if a person with diabetes has that disorder under control, that person may donate blood. And, people with tattoos or body piercings may donate, but only after a 12-month waiting period from the time of those applications.
Jackman said those are the types of determinations made during the screening phase of blood donating.
She advised potential blood donors to hydrate themselves before donating.
"But that doesn't mean slam a bunch of water and then do coffee or tea," she said. As diuretics, coffee and tea dehydrate the body, she explained.
"And eat. It's not like before a surgical procedure. People should eat before giving blood," she said.
Referring to other printed handouts, Jackman told the audience, "Men who donate blood may cut their risk of cardiovascular disease by 30 to 85 percent," and she said blood service sponsors, called, "Partners for Life," save lives by organizing blood drives throughout the year.
She said it would only take 10 or 15 minutes a day for about five days to organize a blood drive at someone's business, school or office.
"The borough has its annual Halloween blood drive. It's the best on the peninsula," Jackman said, recognizing Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Dale Bagley's attendance.
"I'm asking you to really consider organizing a blood drive. All the blood collected here stays in Alaska," she said.
Blood Bank of Alaska serves 26 of the 28 hospitals in the state.
The Kenai Peninsula Center is in the Blazy Mall on the Sterling Highway in Soldotna and is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
In conjunction with the city of Soldotna, the center is conducting a blood drive Friday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the Soldotna City Council chambers.
Soldotna Mayor Dave Carey also announced that Soldotna and Kenai are commemorating Sept. 11 this year with the Twin Cities Blood Drive and Mayors' Salute to Community Service from 2 to 6:30 p.m. at the Soldotna Sports Center.
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