Karen Coney Coplin on Heartfelt Heartbeats the gift of Blood

It’s a new year! Most of us are ready to get 2021 underway. Maybe you readily embrace New Year’s resolutions. If so, these often involve commitments to health and wellness, such as increasing levels of fitness/losing weight, or quitting bad habits like smoking.

It’s not commonly known that January is National Blood Donation month, and has been for 51 years! One of the reasons the first month of the year was selected by national blood donor advocacy organizations is due to the rise of seasonal illness and the effect of inclement weather – donors are more likely to stay home. However, those needing blood do not take a holiday. Especially in the COVID-19 era, donors are scarce.

You may not know that all blood and blood products collected locally stay here to help Naples area patients. What else might motivate you to consider starting or renewing a blood donation habit? One factor is knowledge that a family member or loved one requires a transfusion and you realize that blood supplies are critically low.

Or, maybe you are inspired by a friend or colleague who is organizing a mobile blood drive. You may want to do an act of kindness and realize this may be an ultimate way to give back to the community, saving up to three lives in the process.

At the same time, you benefit: blood donors receive a mini-physical at the time of donation. Vital signs like blood pressure, body temperature and pulse rate are all recorded before the donation process begins. It is always advisable to be well-hydrated and to have eaten a meal before donating blood.

What about giving blood in the age of COVID-19? At the NCH Community Blood Center, bear in mind the following:

• Precautionary guidelines from CDC and FDA are being followed to keep donors and staff safe.
• Donors must bring and wear face masks or coverings (as well as photo ID).
• ONLY people who are actually giving blood can enter the bloodmobile due to social distancing practices

At this time, there is a shortage of all blood types, and especially Rh-negative and whole blood convalescent plasma (WB/WCCP).

Anyone who has fully recovered from COVID-19 can donate WB/WCCP at the Community Blood Center’s primary location at 11190 Health Park Blvd. Naples, FL 31110, or at any Bloodmobile. Visit www.givebloodcbc.org for details and location of upcoming blood drives, as well as the hours for the main office and to find more information about becoming a WB/WCCP donor.

Laura Rosen, Community Relations Manager of the NCH CBC advises, “The process of donating WB/WCCP is easy and much like giving a regular pint of blood. No appointment is necessary” though all regular blood donor criteria and some specific laboratory criteria must be met.

Ms. Rosen also notes, “Call us on weekdays if you have any questions: 239.624.4120, option 4. Kindly leave a message on this secured line and someone WILL return your call.”

This is a deeply felt commitment of mine, as my beloved father died of leukemia. However, for some time, many donors kept him strong – even in remission. I don’t know these giving people but they are true heroes saving lives much as our medical and other frontline workers have in their tireless battle against COVID-19. Since my dad passed, I have tried to pay it forward dozens of times over the past decade.

Healthy donors can donate blood up to five or even six times a year. But even donors who visit just
once or twice a year make a difference and are making a time commitment of infinite value to those in critical health. A reliable blood supply depends on donors like you, if you are medically able. If you take the next step, especially this month, thank you!

Email Karen with your article ideas concerning Life in Naples (especially as to local charities and their activities): Napleskcc@gmail.com. Follow her on Instagram for more vignettes about Life in Naples: @naplesbythenumbers. And take a moment to look up a wonderful poem about this subject: Giving by Carol Lynn Pearson or, Karen can send you a copy if you ask.

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