Get Ready for the UMMC Blood Drive, July 26–28!

By Maggie Gill, System Communications Intern

Now is the time to give, says the American Red Cross. On July 5, the not-for-profit organization issued an emergency call for blood and platelets. The request comes on the heels of a particularly slow donation season, when the available supply fell 39,000 donations short of hospital need – a trend that is expected to continue in the following weeks, as regular donors flock to the beaches and mountains for the summer holidays. Unfortunately for the five million Americans who rely on transfusions each year, a vacation is a luxury that they can’t afford.

“We urge people to give now to help hospital patients who depend on blood and platelets being available when they need it,” said Chris Hrouda, executive vice president of the Red Cross Biomedical Services, in a press release. “Summer is one of the most challenging seasons to collect enough blood, but patients need blood no matter what time of the year it is.”

Making up the deficit will require the participation of first-time donors, especially. But often, it’s these individuals who are the most hesitant to roll up their sleeves. One survey found that the top reason that would-be donors decline to give is a fear of needles. The Red Cross recommends that needle-phobes focus on the difference that their gift will make: a single pint of blood – the amount that’s typically collected in a draw – can save the lives of up to three other people. If you count yourself among the ten percent of the population that experiences fear around needles, it may also help to know what to expect on donation day. Here’s a summary of the simple, four step process.

  1. Registration. When you arrive at the blood drive, you’ll see a registration table staffed by a Red Cross employee or volunteer, who will sign you in and review the eligibility guidelines and donation information with you. Be prepared to show your donor card, driver’s license or other form of identification.
  2. Health History and Mini-Physical. This includes a private, confidential interview with a second Red Cross employee or volunteer about your health and travel history. Afterward, he or she will take your temperature, pulse and blood pressure, and prick your finger for a hemoglobin sample.
  3. Donation. Although you can expect your visit to take about an hour, the blood draw itself only lasts eight to ten minutes. The Red Cross attendant will clean a site on your arm with an alcohol swab and insert a brand-new, sterile needle into the vein. During this time, you can read, listen to music or talk with a friend. After the draw is complete, the attendant will remove the needle and cover the site with a bandage.
  4. Refreshments. In the refreshments area, you can enjoy complimentary cookies and apple juice – and the satisfaction of knowing that you’ve made a difference in the lives of others!

You can read more about what to expect Red Cross’ website.

If you’re a first-time donor, or if you haven’t donated in a while, take a minute to familiarize yourself with the eligibility guidelines. As of May, male blood and platelet donors must have a minimum hemoglobin level of 13.0 g/dL – an increase from the previous 12.5 g/dL. (For females, the minimum acceptable level is still 12.5 g/dL.) Hemoglobin is the protein in red blood cells that’s responsible for carrying oxygen from the lungs to the tissues in the rest of the body. The Red Cross tests all prospective donors’ hemoglobin levels as part of the mini-physical, to ensure that they’re able to give safely; individuals who don’t meet the requirement are invited to come back later, once they’ve raised their levels.

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Are you ready to save a life (or three)? University of Maryland Medical Center’s next blood drive will take place in the Gudelsky Hallway on:

  • Tuesday, July 26 (8 am – 8 pm)
  • Wednesday, July 27 (8 am – 8 pm)
  • Thursday, July 28 (7 am – 7 pm)

Donors receive a $5-coupon valid at all UMMC vendors and will be entered in a drawing for two tickets to an upcoming Orioles game.

Walk-ins are welcome, but should be advised that appointments are honored first. Click here to schedule yours today! To save even more time at the donation site, you can also print or download a RapidPass, which allows you to read the education materials and answer the health history questions before your appointment, in the comfort of your home.

Shock Trauma Survivor Stresses Need for Blood Donations, Holds Blood Drive

The last thing Katie Pohler remembers from June 28 is pedaling her bike down Route 450 South in the bike lane, heading to the Waterfront in Annapolis with her boyfriend. But then, it all goes black.

Katie and her boyfriend, Todd Green, were both hit from behind by an impaired driver, and had to be flown to the R Adams Crowley Shock Trauma Center.

While Todd was released that night, Katie spent nearly three weeks in Shock Trauma, undergoing multiple surgeries and recovering from her extensive list of injures. She broke her left leg and arm, and her right hand, collarbone and shoulder, and her trachea was crushed, among other injuries.

During her stay in Shock Trauma, Katie, 23, received multiple blood transfusions while fighting for her life, which is why her friends and family have decided to organize a blood drive in her honor.

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“Having had a transfusion, I understand the importance of donating blood to save lives. I am going to give blood any chance I get,” Katie says.

Coming up with the idea for the drive was Katie’s neighbor and family friend, Candy McCann Fontz. Fontz, who has hosted blood drives before, felt this was a perfect way to support the family during such a trying time and help others.

“I know the power of what my donation does because I have seen it,” Fontz says of why blood drives are so important.

When Fontz brought the idea up to Katie and her family, it was unanimous that this was a perfect way to honor Katie’s recovery.

“I feel wonderful about doing this blood drive because I want to give back. Everybody helped Katie and so I want to be able to help others.” Donna Pohler, Katie’s mother, says.

The blood drive will be held from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Nov. 15 at the Glen Burnie Improvement Association, located at 19 S. Crain Highway, Glen Burnie. To schedule an appointment, head to www.redcrossblood.org and enter sponsor code GBIA.

“It’s about giving back and educating people on why it is important to donate,” Donna says.

According to the American Red Cross, every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood and more than 41,000 blood donations are required every day. The need for blood can be for emergency cases or for patients with conditions that require multiple transfusions, such as cancer patients going through chemotherapy or patients diagnosed with sickle cell disease.

Katie is currently going to physical therapy three times a week, and getting stronger every day. Her recovery process will be a long road, and some injuries will have more lasting effects than others.

“I just had vocal cord surgery and my voice is a lot different from what it used to be, but I am just thankful to have a voice at all,” Katie says.

Katie’s stay at Shock Trauma saved her life, and she says she is grateful to all the doctors and nurses who helped aid in her recovery, and to those who have taken the time to donate blood.

“I just can’t stress it enough how important it is to give blood,” Katie says. “You never expect that one day you are going to be in that situation where you need it.”

For more information on the blood drive, head online to the event’s Facebook page set up or call the Red Cross directly at 1-800-733-2767 to set up an appointment.