Power of ‘red’

Published 10:53 am Thursday, February 16, 2017

Contributing Writer

SEABOARD – The color red is everywhere on Valentine’s Day each year. It’s a symbol of love and the typical color of hearts.

Red is also the color of blood, so it makes sense to hold a blood drive on February 14. Galatia Baptist Church was host to a Red Cross blood drive on the holiday known for spreading love.

“There’s always a need,” church pastor David Foster said of why they reach out to the community with this kind of event. “We want to provide a place for people to come to help.”

The church’s fellowship hall was filled with both donors and volunteers of all ages, talking and laughing together as they went through the donating process. Sue Rose and Donna Davis were two church members who helped serve snacks and sandwiches to the donors.

“We usually hold one twice a year,” Rose explained, saying that the other one was usually held during the fall.

Davis added that bad weather during the winter causes many blood drives to be cancelled. This means that the need for blood is usually greater during this time of year.

That same sentiment was echoed by Jane Casey of the Red Cross.

“We tend to run low,” she said because some blood drives, particularly up north, are put on hold because of snow making it difficult for people to turn out.

The need is “continual” Casey said, explaining that blood has a shelf life just like any other perishable item. A pint of donated blood lasts only 42 days while platelets last even less, at merely three days. All types of blood are necessary, but O negative and B negative are the ones the Red Cross runs out of the quickest.

O negative is called the “universal donor” because anyone can receive it, but only 6-8 percent of the population has that particular blood type. There is always a need to replenish the blood supply.

For people who are considering donating, Casey provided some important things to know ahead of time. It’s a good idea to eat a decent meal about an hour beforehand and to drink plenty of non-alcoholic fluids as well. It’s important to be feeling well and to not be on any antibiotics for an infection. Donors will need to provide an ID, and should know what medications they are taking because some medical conditions prevent a person from donating.

“People with high blood pressure or diabetes are eligible to donate,” Casey noted, “as long as they are feeling well that day.”

There is no age limit, but 16 year-olds need parental consent.

Donors must be at least 110 pounds, although that number may need to be slightly higher for teens. It’s also important to keep track of dates when traveling outside of the country. For example, a donor who has travelled to a country with malaria must wait a year before they can donate.

The rules may seem daunting to first time donors, but regular donors were quick to reassure that it’s all worth it.

“It makes you feel good that you’re able to help someone,” donor Herman Duncan said. “The process of donating doesn’t hurt and doesn’t usually take very long either. Go ahead and sign up.”

The goal for Galatia’s Valentine’s Day drive was 23 pints. They slightly exceeded that goal by collecting 26 pints.