A meaningful donation

Published 9:42 pm Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Cities compete over things all the time. Economic development opportunities, quality staff, tourist dollars and good public relations are among the most obvious of those things. Earlier this week, though, cities in Hampton Roads were competing to see which one could raise the most blood donations through the American Red Cross.

The Mayor’s Cup blood drives were part of a push by the Red Cross to overcome the expected summer drought in donations that results when area high schools let out for the summer. Red Cross officials say that about 19 percent of their donors are high school and college students, so when those students are not in class, where it’s easy to find large groups at one time and in one place, blood donations can slow to a trickle, especially considering the fact that many other donors also go away on vacations or find themselves otherwise too busy to give blood during the summer.

But there’s a need for blood in all seasons, and in the United States, according to the Red Cross, someone needs blood every two seconds. Considering that pace, there’s not a lot of room for donations to slip during the summer before low supplies cause problems.

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Fortunately, giving blood is easy to do, and there are some personal benefits to the process beyond even the good feeling the donor gets by doing so. Everyone who attends a blood drive to donate blood receives a mini-physical exam, getting pulse, blood pressure, body temperature and hemoglobin levels checked out. And, along with the feeling of accomplishment that comes from knowing you’ve helped save lives, you’ll get a snack and something to drink in the refreshment area as you complete the 10- to 15-minute recovery cycle after your donation.

Including the recovery time, registration and the mini-physical, giving blood takes about half an hour. That half-hour investment can mean life or death to someone who needs your blood. Red Cross officials say the top use of blood donations in Hampton Roads is for ongoing blood therapies for patients with sickle cell anemia, leukemia and other forms of cancer. Other patients who may need blood products include burn patients, premature babies, traumatic injury victims and those undergoing surgical procedures.

Suffolk’s participation in the Mayor’s Cup blood drives ended Tuesday, but there are still plenty of opportunities ahead to donate lifesaving blood. Drives will be held at Chesapeake Square Mall June 22, 28 and 29, and more will be coming to the city in the months ahead. Visit www.redcrossblood.org for more information and to find a drive near you.

This could be the most meaningful thing you’ll do all summer.