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Event lauds blood drive organizers
Blood transfusions save lives every day in Arizona. Without them, 14-year-old Taylor Whaley might not be alive today.
When she was 9 years old, Taylor tripped and fell in her home, severely injuring her hip bone. After six months of physical therapy, her doctors realized her hip socket had been dislocated and her bones had fused in that position. Soon after the discovery, she underwent surgery to repair the damage at Children's Phoenix Hospital.
The surgery was successful, but Taylor lost a vast amount of blood during the procedure and was given a blood transfusion.
The blood was provided by United Blood Services, a nonprofit community blood provider that has been serving Arizona hospitals since 1943. UBS currently serves patients in more than 50 hospitals statewide and is the sole supplier of blood components for Yuma Regional Medical Center.
“If it weren't for the blood, I think Taylor would have continued to struggle,” said her mother, Melissa. “Blood donors helped my daughter to heal after surgery.”
Taylor has recovered from the experience and is now a student at Cibola High School.
“It means so much to me and my family that you have dedicated your time putting together blood drives,” Taylor told Yuma-area blood drive coordinators Friday afternoon during the annual UBS Yuma Valentines for Life celebration event.
“The results of your dedication ensured there was blood available to help me heal after my surgery. Thank you for hosting blood drives to help kids like me.”
In 2012, coordinators from 26 Yuma-area organizations hosted 54 blood drives, which resulted in 2,283 donations for Arizona patients. Because each donation can be separated into components to benefit several patients, Yuma-area donors have helped save up to 7,000 lives, according to UBS.
During 2012, patients at YRMC required 9,394 lifesaving blood transfusions. On average, there are about 800 transfusions a month and 25 transfusions every day at the hospital.
“Here is another situation that we have where communities come together to help friends and family, brothers and sisters, and people they don't even know,” Yuma Mayor Al Krieger said during the event.
“This is individuals making a commitment to their brothers and sisters, literally to humanity, to take a little bit of time out of their life (and) draw blood, with no knowledge of where it is going. I think that speaks well for the community and I want to applaud the organization here — United Blood Services — for being that glue that holds together this idea that it is important for us all to donate blood to save a life.”
During the celebration, organizations and individuals were recognized and honored by UBS for their efforts to coordinate and organize blood drives in the Yuma area.
The top honor went to Robin Hardee, a YRMC employee who has been a blood drive coordinator for several years. She was presented with a Hero Award for the third consecutive year.
The award is presented to those who provide the largest impact on the blood supply in Arizona and who demonstrate outstanding blood drive coordination. The honor is earned by less than 1 percent of all blood drive coordinators statewide.
During 2012, the six blood drives Hardee coordinated resulted in 257 blood donations.
Once collected, blood donations are immediately transported via airplane to a UBS laboratory where they are inspected and separated into components such as plasma, red cells and platelets.
The raw blood is transported by about 150 pilots who are part of Flights For Life, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing free air transportation to transport blood for UBS in Arizona.
The pilots do not charge UBS for the transportation. Each volunteer pays for all the costs associated with flying, including fuel, out of their own pockets.
After the blood is processed in Scottsdale, it is delivered to hospitals that need it across the state. Nearly every day of the week, an FFL pilot delivers a fresh supply to YRMC via the Yuma International Airport.
To ensure there is enough blood to meet the huge demand statewide and in Yuma, UBS is constantly seeking blood donors.
According to Sue Thew, UBS public relations representative, it takes about 700 donors a day to supply enough blood statewide.
The blood type in highest demand continues to be O-negative, which can be used universally by patients with all blood types, Thew added. While only 6 percent of the population is O-negative, the blood can be given to anyone who is in need of a transplant regardless of their blood type.
For more information about how to become a blood donor, visit www.bloodhero.com or call 1-877-UBS-HERO.
Chris McDaniel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 539-6849.