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Dak-Minn Blood Bank facing blood shortage, seeking donors

Supplies are running low at Dak-Minn Blood Bank in Grand Forks, and its staff members say they need donations from the public now more than ever. "We are serious when we have those pleas out there," Donor Resource Coordinator Mark Jensen said ref...

Supplies are running low at Dak-Minn Blood Bank in Grand Forks, and its staff members say they need donations from the public now more than ever.

"We are serious when we have those pleas out there," Donor Resource Coordinator Mark Jensen said referring to advertisements the organization has placed around town. "It's not just a ploy to get people in to donate blood. There is a serious need."

The blood bank is requesting people of all blood types donate, according to Jensen.

An increased demand for blood products has the blood bank seeking more than its usual donors.

It typically needs 20 to 25 donors per day, five days a week to maintain a "safe level" of blood supply in the facility, according to Jensen.

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Summer is usually a slow time for donors, but donations tend to pick up once college students come back to Grand Forks for the school year.

"Our next big community blood drive is in October so we'll get a big bump from that," said Terri Hintz, transfusion and tissue service supervisor for Altru Hospital. "But we can't wait that long for a bump."

Misconceptions

Much of the need for blood comes from routine medical procedures performed at local facilities, Hintz said.

There is a misconception that blood donations are primarily used for treating victims of car accidents or other events resulting in serious injury, according to Jensen.

While he and Hintz said being prepared for these incidents is important, donors should keep in mind donations are needed to heal numerous types of patients.

When people donate, they give one unit, equivalent to a pint, of blood. Some routine procedures require one or two units. More serious conditions or illnesses such as internal bleeding or cancer require additional units.

"If someone has a (gastrointestinal) bleed, they could go through 20 to 30 units of blood," Hintz said.

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There also misconceptions around who can and cannot donate blood.

In the past, people with diabetes have been kept from giving blood, but Jensen said those restrictions were recently lifted.

"As long as you have everything under control, you can give blood," he said.

Some on medication also may think they can't give blood, but they should check with the blood bank to see if this is the case before dismissing the idea.

"There are very few medications on our defer list," Jensen said.

Process

Donating blood isn't just for the young, according to Jensen.

Other than the minimum donation age being 16, there isn't a limit on how old blood donors can be.

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"People sometimes ask 'Am I too old to donate?' or 'Do you take old people blood?'" Jensen said with laugh. "We do."

On the other end of the age spectrum, those who are 16 must have a signed consent form from a parent or guardian.

Eligible donors can make an appointment or just walk into the bank to give blood. The entire process takes about 45 minutes to an hour with the actual blood draw being only four to eight minutes.

The rest of the time, the donor will be given an educational packet to read and a mini-physical of sorts with staff checking his or her blood pressure, temperature, pulse and hemoglobin level of the blood.

After a physical, a health questionnaire will be given to the donor. Both determine if he or she is healthy enough to give blood.

Those with questions or interested in making an appointment can call Dak-Minn Blood Bank at (701) 780-5433.

Call Jewett at (701) 780-1108; (800) 477-6572, ext. 1108; or send email to bjewett@gfherald.com .

Related Topics: HEALTH
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