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UMFK to host American Red Cross Blood Drive as regional blood supplies are critically low

March 7, 2003


The University of Maine at Fort Kent Student Nurses' Organization (SNO), Northern Maine Medical Center and the UMFK Student Senate will host an American Red Cross Blood Drive on Tuesday, April 15, from 12:00 noon to 5:00 p.m. in the campus SportsCenter.

The annual event is organized by students enrolled in UMFK's nursing program as part of the division's community outreach efforts. In addition to benefiting patients in hospitals throughout the state of Maine, the blood drive serves as a demonstration to the student nurses of the important role the community plays in their future profession.

"This is a worthwhile and wonderful community service activity for UMFK students. It is important to recognize the importance of blood donor support, because one out of every ten people entering a hospital needs blood," said Erin Soucy, nursing resource center manager and faculty advisor for SNO.

Soucy cites that in order to meet the need for blood in central and northern New England, the Red Cross must receive more than 350,000 donations a year. Blood components and derivatives manufactured from the donated blood are sent to more than 170 hospitals.

In Maine, over 300 blood donations are required every day from donors to meet the needs of patients in the state's 39 hospitals. A cancer patient alone may require hundreds of units of blood products during the course of treatment.

Voluntary blood donations can help save the life of a patient with cancer, heart disease, gastrointestinal disease, anemia, fractures, trauma, bone and joint disease, liver, kidney and lung disease, or other serious medical conditions.

More than six million voluntary blood donations flow through the American Red Cross each year, nearly half the nation's blood supply. Blood given through the American Red Cross is "blood without borders." In this time of national uncertainty, it is more important than ever to have the capability to channel blood whenever and wherever it is needed.

Some media outlets reported that the Red Cross collected too much blood after September 11 and had to throw away much of it. Thanks to good donor and inventory management, the New England Region was able to avoid "over collecting" blood in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks and the blood which met their safety standards was used to meet the needs of patients.

The depiction of donors lined up around the block to give blood is vivid, and many people do not realize that red blood cells have a shelf life of only 42 days. The misconception that the Red Cross has all the blood it needs is a dangerous one. Currently blood reserves are at a critical low. Volunteer blood donations are needed immediately to avoid a serious blood shortage in New England.

Blood is a community resource given freely by generous healthy volunteer donors for sick or injured patients. As long as the blood supply is continually replenished, physicians and their patients can be assured of a reliable supply of blood when needed.

Blood donated at the SNO blood drive is used for patients in Maine hospitals. The American Red Cross provides Maine hospitals with a full array of blood products and services. The mission of the American Red Cross Blood Services is saving lives.

"We participate very gladly to support the Red Cross in their efforts to collect a very lifesaving product," said Joanne Fortin, director of nursing at Northern Maine Medical Center. "One out of every ten people entering a hospital needs blood. We are especially pleased to be volunteering with the UMFK Student Nurses' Organization in this very worthy project."

Kate Long, vice president of SNO agrees. "I can think of no better way for one person to help another, and as nursing students we're delighted we can participate in such a concrete way," said Long.

Individuals who are at least 17 years old, weigh at least 110 pounds, and are in good health may be eligible to donate. Getting a good night's sleep, having a good breakfast or lunch and drinking plenty of fluids helps prepare a donor for giving blood.

Blood donors can give blood every eight weeks, or six times a year, and the American Red Cross only collects blood from voluntary donors.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, call the American Red Cross at 1-800-GIVE LIFE or visit their web site at