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Blood donors needed, honored in January

PRINCETON — With the holiday season ending, eligible Bureau County residents are encouraged to remember one more gift, that of donating blood to the American Red Cross.

On Wednesday, Bureau County Red Cross Executive Director Lori Compton said the winter season can be a difficult time for blood donations due to the possible cold and inclement weather. Also, some donors are “snowbirds”, or people who head south to warmer climates in the winter, which takes away from the local donor numbers. However, snowbirds can donate blood from their winter locations if they live there at least 56 days, which is the required time between blood donations, she said.

Countywide, the Bureau County Red Cross averages six or seven blood drives a month, with the next blood drive set for 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Jan. 3 at the First United Methodist Church, 316 S. Church St. in Princeton.

Compton said Bureau County residents have been generous in their blood donations. The county has been good at meeting its goals, she said.

“We have very good donors who take it seriously,” Compton said.

In recognition of blood donors across the county, the American Red Cross has proclaimed January as National Blood Donor Month. An estimated 44,000 pints of blood are needed each day in hospitals throughout the country to help treat trauma victims, surgery patients, organ transplant recipients, premature babies, cancer patients and handle other needs. About 40 percent of the nation’s blood supply is provided through the Red Cross. Nationwide, there are about 4 million Red Cross blood donors.

Ben Corey, spokesperson for the American Red Cross, said only about 38 percent of the U.S. population are eligible to donate blood. But of that number, only about 8 percent actually do so, he said.

Concerning donor eligibility, Compton said area high schools have been very good about having blood drives, with 17-year-olds allowed to donate blood with parental signatures. There is a weight limit, of at least 110 pounds, and the person must be healthy on the day of blood drive. Bureau County young people have really stepped up to the plate to help the Red Cross, she said.

Also, people do not need to donate blood in their hometown only, but may attend a blood drive in any community, Compton said.

Blood units collected in Bureau County are sent to Peoria for processing and then sent wherever they are needed, whether it’s back to Bureau County or elsewhere, Compton said. Each unit of blood can be used to save three lives, she said.

In addition to recognizing January as National Blood Donor Month, Compton said the local chapter is also hosting its annual fundraiser in January, set for a live auction and dance on Jan. 19 at Ye Olde Underground Inn in Princeton. Proceeds will go to support the work of the Red Cross.

In addition to its blood drives, the Bureau County Red Cross has also assisted families from 15 house fires since July.

Whether it’s for a unit of blood or to help a family after a house fire, the Bureau County Red Cross wants to be ready and able to assist people whatever their needs might be, Compton said.

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