Just in time for Halloween, Meridian-based United Blood Services began offering donors an easier way to give blood.
On October 30, United Blood Services, Mississippi’s largest non-profit volunteer blood donor organization, and part of Scottsdale, Az.-based Blood Systems, officially moved into its new Jackson home located at 3 River Bend Place, across from the Ice Park on Lakeland Drive. The 7,280-square-foot facility doubles the size of the facility located at 2301 Lakeland Drive and helps support the need for growing recruitment, collections, storage, distribution and administrative activities.
“We’re very excited about the move,” said United Blood Services spokesperson Susan Morris. “We want our donors to understand how much we appreciate what they do. By taking out that sterile clinical feel that most blood centers are known for, and having instead a fun, comfortable, enhanced donor-friendly environment for them, they’re much more likely to see us as an important part of the community.
“Realistically, this blood center is theirs, to ensure their safety to make sure we have enough blood for them, their loved ones and neighbors during a time of need.”
To make it easier for donors to give blood, United Blood Services has eight donor beds featuring the new Trima and Haemonetics multiple product collection technology, the latter of which provides for double red cell apheresis, a procedure that allows donors to give two units of red cells at the same time.
“The donation process is made much more pleasant for the donor because we’re able to draw only red cells while returning a saline solution, plus their plasma and platelets to them,” said Morris. “Because the volume of fluid they normally lose during a regular donation is replaced, they feel better. A bonus is that the needle is smaller. The important point is that they can double the impact. Instead of giving one unit, they can give two while feeling better physically and emotionally.”
It takes approximately 20 minutes longer to donate blood with the new machines. Donors can expect to spend just over an hour at the center, with the greatest amount of time involved in gathering medical history.
“We’re trying to have chairs with access to the Internet so donors can donate blood and do business on their laptop at the same time,” said Morris. “We’re trying to make as many adjustments for our very busy donors as possible.”
United Blood Services established a Mississippi presence in January 1986 and now has locations in Hattiesburg, Laurel, Meridian, Tupelo and Jackson. Last year, 60,000 units were collected; 100,000 units were distributed to hospitals serving Mississippi.
“The hospitals in Jackson would literally not be able to operate without blood, especially the collection of platelets, which are so critical as a clotting factor to the livelihood of a cancer patient,” said Morris. “After 9/11, a lot of us reevaluated the way we live, what we cherish. With the economy being in a precarious situation and headlines constantly filled with news about war, it’s difficult.
“We feel powerless. In a time when individuals feel they cannot make a difference, donating blood shows that we have the capacity within ourselves to save lives. This is a great way to do that. It’s a very simple and safe process.”
In the new facility, United Blood Services will host fun, educational events with more in-center promotions, and will seek additional community and corporate involvement.
“We haven’t had the opportunity to build relationships with companies like Nissan, but we plan to,” said Morris. “The business community has a history of being extremely giving and responsive. This is a very cost-effective way for companies to make a huge difference in the community and with their employees. Hosting a blood drive helps them take out an insurance policy, if you will, for their employees, to insure there will be blood on the shelves when they need it.
“I’d like to see businesses step up during the holiday season. They don’t have to give us a dime. Just their time.”
Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynne W. Jeter at firstname.lastname@example.org.