Become a regular blood donor

In a world that is more hectic than ever, it may be difficult to find a way to contribute to your community. Money and time are the world’s hottest commodities, and it seems we are always looking for ways to increase these precious resources. You may wonder what you can do to immediately and positively impact your community. I have a very simple answer…become a regular blood donor.

Of course, you say, another solicitation for your time and resources. And for what?

Every three seconds, someone needs blood. You hear the news, see commercials, but until you or someone you know needs a blood transfusion, it seems to be somebody else’s problem.

Statistics suggest at some point it will be your problem. One in three of us will need blood in our lifetime. That means that between you, your spouse and a child, one of you will need blood or blood components at some point in your life.

The vast majority of blood needs arise in an emergency manner; therefore, being prepared is imperative. That is why there are community blood centers working to ensure there is a safe and adequate supply of blood on the shelves. Our area blood center, which maintains blood and blood products for nine hospitals in six counties, needs to collect a minimum of 700 donations each week!

Though 60 percent of our population is eligible and able to donate, only 5 percent does. Why, you ask? Some say it is the needles, the time, or they just don’t see the point. That is part of the problem. The 5 percent of our community that donates nearly 100 percent of all the blood is pulling the weight of the nearly 500,000 people residing in the areas we serve. Many of them, like myself, became a blood donor only after a loved one needed blood or blood components. Then I ask, why do we find out about statistics only after becoming one? I am not throwing stones; I, too, waited until it affected ME to get involved.

I urge you to change now. Get involved, become a blood donor, NOW. Don’t wait until the statistics impact you. In one hour, your blood donation will be used efficiently to potentially save or enhance at least three lives. Tell me another way you can make that kind of difference in that amount of time.

Who uses this blood, you ask? Here’s a quick story about a friend of mine:

Lauren Larsen was a healthy, 38-year-old marathoner who had a perfectly normal pregnancy—not even morning sickness. In her 37th week, she developed pre-eclampsia, a serious complication, resulting in an emergency C-section. Following the successful C-section, Lauren’s body shut down as her blood pressure dropped precipitously, and her circulation failed. In a nutshell, she was bleeding uncontrollably through every vessel in her body. After six weeks in ICU, three surgeries, four weeks of kidney dialysis and more than 200 units of blood components (red blood cells, platelets, plasma and cryoprecipitate), Lauren went home to her 2-month-old daughter a changed woman. Until that day, Lauren had only heard about the statistics, and now Lauren Larsen is a statistic. Lauren now works full time as a blood donor advocate, traveling nationwide, to help educate communities about the need for a safe and adequate blood supply at all times.

Jennifer Bowman is public relations director at the Rock River Valley Blood Center (RRVBC). RRVBC is the sole supplier of blood and related services to OSF Saint Anthony, Rockford Memorial, SwedishAmerican, Beloit Memorial, Edgerton Memorial Community, Freeport Health Network, Harvard Memorial, Northwest Suburban Community and Rochelle Community hospitals. Community-minded volunteers donate virtually all of this country’s supply of blood for transfusion.

RRVBC is open from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday, and 6:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Fridays. For more information, call RRVBC at 815/965-8751, visit, or stop in at 419 N. Sixth St.

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