January 24, 2011

Weather and Illness Hurting Blood Drives

Union Leader Correspondent
LONDONDERRY -- With last Friday’s snowstorm marking the third one this month, the local chapter of the American Red Cross missed out on thousands of pints of much-needed blood, since various area blood drives were canceled.
“Add to that the increase of people not feeling well and not donating this month, we have a poor outlook for meeting the demand for blood products in New Hampshire,” Vinny Curro said last week. “With the storms canceling drives, the
 need for blood right now is critical.”

Curro, who helps organize the annual blood and bone marrow typing drive at St. Jude Parish, said he’s hoping the weather will cooperate for the Jan. 28 event.
Over the years, the church’s annual drives have yielded hundreds of donors, not only donating pints of Type A and O, but life-saving bone marrow.
Curro said the need for bone marrow donors on a local level is equally high right now.
“Recently there has been some bad press about a certain typing organization, and this has affected the number of possible donors coming forward to be typed for a possible bone marrow donation,” he noted. “But the Rhode Island Blood Center has done a tremendous job.”
To be considered as a potential bone marrow donor, the process is pretty simple: Curro described it as “just paperwork and a cheek swab.”
Though the typing process is pretty pricey at about $112 per donor, that fee is covered by most major health insurers. For good Samaritans who aren’t currently covered, sponsorship is available through Michael’s Fund of Fall River, a charity named after 11-year-old Michael Wrobel, who lost his battle with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 1996. A suitable bone marrow match wasn’t found in time to save his life.
According to statistics provided by the New Englandbased Be The Match registry, only 30 percent of patients in need of a bone marrow transplant have a matching donor within their family.
The organization assists around 10,000 patients each year who suffer from leukemia, lymphoma and other bonemarrow affecting diseases.
Once a potential match is determined, the potential donor’s blood is sampled and a series of health history questions is asked. Further typing is done to make sure a successful transplant is possible.
In most cases, the donation process itself is a nonsurgical procedure involving simple injections in the arm, though occasionally donations are obtained via a minor surgical procedure, where a doctor uses a needle and syringe to withdraw
 blood stem cells from the back of the pelvic bone. Both procedures are done on an outpatient basis and of course, donors have the final say as to which collection method is used.
Blood donors participating in Friday’s event will be encouraged to “give a pint, get a pound, with all donors receiving a coupon for a free bag of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee and all donors will enjoy a treat of “World Famous Chili and Chicken Soup” and their fill of homemade baked goods following their donation.
The blood and bone marrow typing drive will take place Friday, Jan. 28, at St. Jude Parish, 435 Mammoth Road, from 1 to 7 p.m.
A blood donor card or valid picture identification is required to donate. Those wishing to register as a bone marrow donor are asked to bring a current health insurance card, if they have one.
Blood donors may call 1-800-RED-CROSS to schedule an appointment that day, though walk-ins are also welcome.
For more information on bone marrow typing, including eligibility questions, call (800) 283-8385, ext. 762.

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