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Weather, sickness create urgent need for blood donations

Nyla VanderLaan was only one day old when 20 percent of the blood in her body needed to be replaced due to a massive ulcer bleeding into her stomach. She is now a healthy 13-year-old girl.

O-Negative especially needed

Did you know that every two seconds, someone needs blood? This means the need for blood never ends. Michigan Blood must collect over 560 blood donations a day to meet the needs of more than 60 Michigan hospitals.

But right now that’s not happening. So Michigan Blood is sending out an SOS to potential blood donors in West Michigan: We need your blood. And we need it now.

“We always have fewer blood donations during the winter,” said Alicia Barry, manager of community relations for Michigan Blood, “But the bad weather has forced some blood drives to shut down or kept donors from driving out. That, combined with all the sickness that’s been going around, has pushed our levels even lower than usual.”

They also have had an ongoing lower inventory of O-Negative type blood, which everyone can use.

“All blood types are important and necessary for maintaining an adequate blood supply, but Michigan Blood has an ongoing, high need for type O-Negative blood,” said Amy Rotter, with Michigan Blood. “Because any patient is able to receive this type of blood, hospitals rely on it for emergency situations when there might not be time to check a patient’s blood type. A person can donate whole blood once every 56 days, or up to 6 times a year. However, the average donor only donates twice per year. We are asking any O-Negative donors to consider giving more frequently. Only 9 percent of the Michigan population has type O-Negative blood, but 100 percent of the population can receive it.”

She also explained that blood has a limited shelf life, which means they are not able to “stock up” in preparation for these winter months. Each blood donation is separated into three main components: red cells, platelets, and plasma. While plasma can be stored up to a year, red cells only last 42 days, and platelets last a mere 5 days. This means that Michigan Blood needs blood donors every day, year-round.

Any healthy person 17 or older (or 16 with parental consent) may be eligible to donate, although there are height and weight restrictions for people 16 to 18 years old. Anyone 19 and older must weigh at least 112 lbs. Blood donors should bring photo ID. To schedule an appointment, please call 1-866-MIBLOOD (642-5663), text MIBLOOD to 444999, or schedule online at miblood.org.

Donation centers:

Grand Rapids Area Donor Center

1036 Fuller Ave NE

Sundays: 7am – 2pm (appointment only)
Mondays through Thursdays: 8am – 7pm
Fridays: 6am – 1pm
Saturdays: 7am – 2pm

Grandville Donor Center – 

Grandville United Methodist Church

3140 Wilson Ave
Wednesdays: 7am – 2pm (appointment only)
Thursdays: 12pm – 7pm
Saturdays: 7am – 2pm (appointment only)

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