More than 30 people signed up Thursday to give a part of themselves during the holiday season – their blood.
The United Blood Services blood mobile parked outside the Cortez Fire Protection District on Thursday afternoon for the district’s annual drive. This year, it served about double the usual number of donors.
Fire Chief Jeff Vandevoorde, who donated blood, said the fire district tried new promotions this year, including a radio interview about Christmas season safety. The district also promoted it concurrently with its food drive, but he suggested people might just feel more generous this year.
“I think people just want to help out,” Vandevoorde said.
United Blood Services brought in an extra technician and extended the hours of the blood drive to accommodate the turnout. Kristan Velarde, a donor recruitment representative, said it usually takes about a half-hour, including preliminary test, to donate a pint of whole blood and about 45 minutes for a double red blood cell donation.
The nonprofit United Blood Services collects blood for Southwestern hospitals, then ships it to a facility where it is separated into red blood cells, platelets and plasma. From there, it goes to hospitals and clinics in the Four Corners area, including Southwest Memorial Hospital. Sometimes it gets shipped elsewhere during crises, like the Orlando, Florida, shooting in June.
“We’re short of blood all the time, especially this time of year, when more people are traveling and there are more accidents,” Velarde said. “But if everyone donated who can donate, we’d never have that shortage.”
She said she’s seen a decrease in donors within United Blood Services’ area of service, and an increase in the need for transfusions. To encourage people to donate, the organization awards donors points toward movie tickets, T-shirts and other prizes for each pint of blood. Since last year, donors may sign up for a text message every time their blood is used for a transfusion.
Several people who signed up for Thursday’s blood drive had to be put on a waiting list, and not everyone was able to donate. But United Blood Services will be back in town on Jan. 11 for the city of Cortez blood drive, which is being organized by general services secretary Vickie Haddix. The city’s drive is in its second year.
“I’ve been donating blood since I was in high school,” Haddix said. “I think it’s a good cause.”
So far, five people have signed up, but Haddix hopes to reach 18, matching the fire district’s average turnout.