Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve both fall on a Friday. Surely the staff at the American Red Cross Blood Donor Center would just as soon have a couple of nice slow days before the holiday weekends.
“We can’t afford to go three days without collecting blood,” explained Martha Wildman, recruitment specialist at the blood donor center, located at 900B Hammond St. in Bangor.
Late December is a busy time for most, but Wildman hopes that people will take time from their gift-giving preparations to make one special gift of a unit of blood. `
“It’s a gift you can give at Christmas time that is totally free and makes you feel wonderful,” Wildman said.
Red Cross staff have been decorating the center to make the place festive for the annual event. The center will be open 9 a.m.-3 p.m. both Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.
Giving blood on Christmas Eve may actually help a person get ready for Christmas. Donors may bring along gifts and have them wrapped by members of the Key Club from John Bapst Memorial High School. Each donor will also receive a holiday ornament.
Those giving blood on Christmas Eve will find that the usual crackers and cookies available afterward have been augmented by doughnuts from Dunkin’ Donuts on Odlin Road, and by pizza from Pizza Hut on Broadway.
WWFX-FM radio will be there to add to the festivities.
The goal is to bring in 100 units of blood at the donor center on both Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.
At this time of year, collections tend to be down, Wildman said. There are fewer mobile blood drives in surrounding areas as well, she pointed out. Some businesses shut down over the holidays, as do schools.
The weather is always a concern, too, she said. “We don’t want to go into the bad-weather months low,” she said. With three or four blood drives scheduled most weekdays, it only takes one or two snowstorms to really put a dent into the blood supply. Wildman recalled one storm that decreased the day’s total donors by 634 throughout the Northeast Region.
Blood donors must weigh at least 105 pounds and be at least 18 years of age or older, she explained. Seventeen-year-olds may donate with parental permission, but people younger than 17 may not donate.
Donors must be in good health, but taking medication does not automatically disqualify a person from giving. Nurses at the center have a list of which medications are allowable, and those who want to give blood may call ahead and ask about their own medicine.
Most people are aware that blood transfusions are often needed for people who have been in accidents. But donated blood is just as vital to someone with a blood disorder, recovering from cancer or awaiting surgery. One unit of blood may be processed into different components that may help a number of people.
Appointments are not required, Wildman said, but they do help speed up the process for individual donors. Those who can’t participate on Dec. 24 or 31 are welcome to make an appointment to give blood during the center’s regular hours: noon-7 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Fridays after Dec. 31. People may make an appointment or inquire about a blood drive in their area by calling the Red Cross donor center at 941-2900. Businesses or organizations who would like to sponsor a blood drive may call the same number.