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Back to School Means Return of School Blood Drives
Date:8/31/2007

Students play vital role in maintaining blood supply

WASHINGTON, Aug. 31 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Labor Day signals the end of summer, a difficult season for blood collection, and one that blood centers are usually happy to bid farewell. After coping with tight blood supplies since Memorial Day, there is relief in sight -- school is back in session and so are school blood drives.

(PHOTO: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20070831/DCF008 )

Just how important are drives held on high school and college campuses? A recent study published in Transfusion, indicates that only 37 percent of the U.S. population is eligible to donate -- far less than the 60 percent figure previously estimated -- so student drives are indispensable.

According to a survey of its membership by America's Blood Centers, approximately 16 percent of its annual U.S. collections come from student blood drives. For some blood centers, that number can be much higher. New Jersey Blood Services -- a division of New York Blood Center, Coastal Bend Blood Center (Corpus Christi, Texas) and Houchin Community Blood Bank (Bakersfield, Calif.), report annual collections from school drives of 20, 28 and 30-35 percent, respectively.

"Our blood center has built strong ties with Bakersfield's schools and students," said Houchin Community Blood Bank CEO Greg Gallion. "With close to 35 percent of our total collections coming from school blood drives during the school year, it's not only the blood center that relies on the altruism of our student population, but the entire community. The level of commitment seen from these young people is astounding."

ABC's Canadian members, Canadian Blood Services and Hema-Quebec, rely heavily on student drives as well.

"During the school year, they account for 10 percent of our collections over that period," said Canadian Blood Services Chief Operating Officer Ian Mumford. "That translates into 70,000 units, and, knowing that every donation can help improve or save up to three lives, that's up to 210,000 recipients that will be helped by the next generation of blood donors."

And students are happy to play a part in helping their communities.

"The students at Molina High School are amazing," said Molina High School's Business Teacher and Student Council Sponsor AJ Crowell. "The school is economically disadvantaged, but this does not stop the predominately Hispanic students from coming out in full force to give blood. They know they are helping their community and saving lives. They are truly an inspiration for all."

Young donors will become more important to the blood community as current donors -- the World War II generation and baby boomers -- age. To help raise awareness of the issue among 17-to-24-year-olds, ABC partnered with the American Red Cross and AABB (formerly known as the American Association of Blood Banks) to sponsor a national campaign launched in 2004 by the Ad Council, BloodSaves.

"Because of the dedication of these young people, thousands of lives are being saved thanks to this up and coming generation of blood donors," said ABC President Don Doddridge. "Whether young or old, we are asking people to continue to donate regularly. There is no substitute for blood, the gift of life."

Giving blood is safe, easy and takes only about an hour. To donate blood, one must be healthy, at least 17 years old, weigh at least 110 pounds and meet other donor requirements. Those interested in donating blood are urged to contact their local blood center to schedule an appointment, call 1-888- USBLOOD, or visit AmericasBlood.org to find a local blood center or blood drive.

Citation: W Riley, et al. The United States' potential blood donor pool: estimating the prevalence of donor-exclusion factors on the pool of potential donors. Transfusion 2007.

About America's Blood Centers

Founded in 1962, America's Blood Centers is North America's largest network of community-based blood programs. Recognized by the U.S. Congress for its critical work in patient care and disaster preparedness and response, the federation of 77 blood centers together operates more than 600 collection sites in 45 U.S. states and Canada, providing half of the U.S., and all of the Canadian volunteer donor blood supply.

These blood centers serve an area with more than 180 million people and provide blood products and services to more than 4,200 hospitals and healthcare facilities across North America. ABC's U.S. members are licensed and regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Canadian members are regulated by Health Canada.


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SOURCE America's Blood Centers
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