In an attempt to boost donations, the United Blood Services Center is pumping up its campaign to match the one million donations the service received last year in the Santa Barbara area.
Although the designated “Make a Difference Day” took place on Oct. 27, the UBS will combine forces with community blood drives and clinics to match their 2006 quota of one million blood donations from Oct. 21 to Nov. 17.
The UBS, a nonprofit organization, needs 270 donors a day to meet the needs of 15 million Central Coast residents who depend on UBS for blood transfusions. According to a UBS press release, each donation can save up to two lives, and at least one third of the population will need blood at least once.
UBS Community Relations Director Scott Edward said most of the blood donated goes toward cancer patients with suppressed immune systems.
“We have 20 hospitals on the Central Coast that are first priority, so we make sure we have enough blood on the shelves,” Edward said. “A surprising amount of blood goes towards cancer patients. Then there are car accidents and surgeries such as heart surgeries, and sometimes there are complications in pregnancies. Those are the three main categories [that receive our blood].”
Edward said younger generations are playing an increasingly integral part in the program.
“A lot of our core donors [ages] 35-55 are getting older and can’t really donate blood,” Edward said. “We have seen a huge surge of support from the 17-24 age range, particularly in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo. We’ve gotten huge support from the student population. It’s a really nice trend to see. Some generations don’t have the same sense of community as these students. Because of them, our blood drives are getting a little bit bigger.”
Individuals at least 17 years old, weighing at least 110 pounds and in good health are eligible to donate blood. The process takes about one hour at most. Time, however, often prevents people from donating, Edward said.
Santa Barbara County Senior Community Relations Representative Mary Bittle said blood drives maintain regular hours from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Mondays and Tuesdays, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Fridays.
Bittle said blood drives are scheduled in UCSB residence halls and typically last for four hours. If students wish to go elsewhere, they can go to unitedbloodservices.org and search for the nearest location.
Bittle also said she appreciates the enthusiasm of young donors.
“A lot of our older donors are no longer able to donate for some reason or another, so I think it’s great when students donate blood because hopefully it becomes a habit of a lifetime, and it saves lives every day in our community,” Bittle said.
Addressing those who have a fear of needles, Edwards said the possible discomfort is well worth it.
“It’s not a super painful process,” Edwards said. “Going through a slight moment of discomfort can save someone from extreme pain. Getting a tattoo is far more intense than a blood donation. Even a little tattoo is way more intense than donating blood can ever be.”
Founded in 1943 as the Salt River Valley Blood Bank in Phoenix, Arizona, UBS headquarters Blood Systems works with America’s Blood Centers to deliver over 180 million blood products – such as red blood cells, platelets and plasma – to over 4,200 hospitals and health care facilities.