Nine out of 10 people who live to the age of 70 will require a blood transfusion. However, of those eligible to donate, only 5 percent of the population will bother to give blood, according to Dan Eberts, director of marketing and communications for Florida Blood Services.
Florida Blood Services is hoping to change this disparity. With promotional activities such as radio ads, the occasional television commercial and “I donated” stickers and t-shirts, FBS is getting the word out about how important it is to give blood.
“Different donors are motivated by different things,” said Eberts. “Some people – depending on what you’re giving away – will give blood.”
When it comes to incentives for donating, Eberts finds that they lead to “great turnouts – higher than other drives.”
FBS also provides potential donors with easy access to facilities by setting up “Blood Vans” around the community and on campus. The vans, which are highly specialized busses, afford those who wish to give blood the convenience of not having to make the trek to their local blood bank.
According to James Mcquiller, a phlebotomist who works on the vans on campus, roughly 25-30 students and faculty come in a day to donate. Of those, fewer than five are turned away due to unsatisfactory qualifications.
Each person who donates is put through an intense screening process that includes a wellness checkup.
“Eighty percent of our donations come from vans, while only 20 percent comes from centers,” Eberts said.
Although 90 percent of people will need blood in their lifetime, many find it difficult to handle the pain, are scared of infections or are simply unaware that the blood supply is at a critical level.
“The American blood supply is the safest it has ever been because of pre-screening,” Eberts said. “But 25 percent of the population still thinks they can get AIDS by donating.”
With safety measures in place and the fact that needles are discarded after each use, this phobia is misguided.
According to Eberts, the body is a “blood factory,” and most people will replenish the liquid portion they lost within 24 hours of having their blood drawn.
“The number one use of blood is treatment of diseases such as cancer and marrow transplants for sickle cell anemia,” Eberts said. “There’s no good, artificial substitute other than donations.”
Eberts encourages people who are eligible to donate.
“Donating takes less than one-tenth of your blood supply,” he said. “The body is prepared for it.”
Blood types O+, AB- and B- are currently the most needed, while O- and B+ are low, according to fbsblood.org.
For more information on FBS, visit fbsblood.org or call 1-800-68-BLOOD. Blood drives are held at the Library and the Sun Dome Tuesdays and Wednesdays each week from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.