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Blood bank seeks donors amid shortage

Published: Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014 10:26 a.m. CDT

DeKALB – For the past 10 years, DeKalb resident Danny Wells has donated a pint of blood every eight weeks in hopes that someone will do the same for him one day.

Wells’ blood type is O-negative, which makes him a universal blood donor. According to the American Red Cross, his blood type is relatively rare, with only eight percent of whites having the blood type.

“I’ve always felt that I’ve got the blood. Everybody needs blood,” Wells said. “Why not contribute?”

If everyone had the same mentality as Wells and donated blood only twice a year, there would not be a blood supply shortage, said Heartland Blood Center marketing representative Camille Piazza.

The shortage is partially caused because people are on vacation this time of year, so Heartland Blood Center needs more donors, Piazza said. Another strain on the donor blood supply is that high schoolers and college students typically account for about a quarter of blood donations, but that drops off when school is not in session.

The center is required to collect 600 units or pints of blood every day across northeastern Illinois and northwest Indiana. It can be a day-to-day struggle meeting the quota, Piazza said.

Blood is then donated to one of 57 hospitals, including Kishwaukee, Kindred and Valley West hospitals in DeKalb County. Heartland Blood Center is the sole supplier of blood to Kishwaukee Hospital, Piazza said.

“Our need doesn’t go away. It’s a constant need,” she said. “On average, one out of five people who go to the hospital needs blood. Our need grows each and every day.”

Upcoming blood drives will be from 8 a.m. to noon Aug. 22 at DeKalb Dental Group, 2707 Sycamore Road, DeKalb; and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Aug. 30 at Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 158 N. Fourth St., DeKalb. Immanuel Lutheran Church, 511 Russell Road in DeKalb, will host a drive from 3 to 6:30 p.m. Sept. 2.

In order to be eligible, donors must bring a photo ID, weigh 110 pounds or more, be at least 17 years old and in generally good health. Those who are 16 years old also can donate with a signed permission slip from a parent or guardian.

Donating blood also can help people who are donating. Wells found out he had high blood pressure when he first began donating and is now taking medication. He also can monitor his iron levels when he stops by.

“It’s almost a no-brainer and a freebie,” he said. “When I walk out of here, I feel healthy.”

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