As the largest blood provider in Nevada, Vitalant is urging local residents to “give the gift of life.”
On Tuesday, Jan. 19th many local residents did just that, as several officials from Vitalant hosted their first blood drive of the year at the Pahrump Nugget from 9 a.m., to 3 p.m., so says Brittany McLemore, Vitalant’s communications manager.
“We are kicking off the year by saving lives because one blood donation saves up to three lives,” she said. “We have been coming to the Pahrump Nugget to do community blood drives since 2003. The Pahrump Nugget has saved over 5,000 lives during the course of our partnership together. We are so grateful for the Pahrump Nugget.”
McLemore also provided a few concerning facts about how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected blood drives throughout the Silver State and well beyond, as there have been more than 14,000 blood drives nationwide that were canceled, which resulted in a loss of more than 364,000 uncollected blood donations.
“It is a huge impact unfortunately, so we are just very grateful for the Pahrump Nugget,” she said. “Every two seconds someone in the hospital needs a blood transfusion and so it’s a much more important time now, more than ever to donate, especially after the holiday season. January is marked as National Blood Donor month, because there’s a greater need in January than any other month out of the year for blood donation. From December leading into January, the blood supply decreases by 25 percent each year.”
Whole blood versus plasma
During Tuesday’s blood drive, McLemore said would-be donors could choose to provide whole blood, or what’s known as “convalescent plasma,” the difference being, a whole blood donation can be given to a hospital patient in need of a blood transfusion, while convalescent plasma donations are for individuals who have recovered from COVID-19, where they have developed antibodies in their immune system.
“That is the only FDA-approved treatment right now available to hospitalized COVID-19 patients who are fighting for their lives,” she said. “There is a wide range for blood transfusions. Hospital patients that are experiencing blood loss in a trauma center, are pretty much babies and mothers experiencing birth complications, and babies with rare blood disorders, so there is a wide range of whole blood donations that are constantly needed.”
The literal type of blood is also an important factor when seeking donations, McLemore noted.
“Right now we have a critical need for Type O blood,” she said. “Type O Negative is the universal blood type, and we are in critical need of that type right now. We have at this point, about a two-day supply remaining. Type O positive blood can go to anyone with a positive blood type. If you specifically have Type O Plus, or Type O Negative, they are critically needed at this time, but at the same time, all blood donations are needed.”
Additionally, McLemore said that once all successful blood donations are completed, the donor will be provided with an antibody test.
“We have extended our antibody testing program through the end of February, and they will receive those results in their private online donor profile within two weeks after their donation,” she said. “This is very special because if you have those positive antibody results, you can help save COVID-19 patients’ lives by donating your convalescent plasma.”
See you soon
For those who missed the blood donation event but would like to donate at another time, McLemore said Vitalant, formally known as United Blood Services, holds several blood drives in Pahrump throughout the year.
“We will be back here again next month and throughout the year,” she noted. “It takes about an hour to donate whole blood from start to finish. The actual donation itself is about 10 to 12 minutes, while convalescent plasma donations are about a two-hour process, but the donation itself is about 45 minutes. I also wanted to say that if you make a whole blood donation, you can donate every eight weeks, but if you donate convalescent plasma, you can actually donate every week.”
Coinciding with the blood drive, Vitalant officials presented the Pahrump Nugget with its esteemed “Outstanding Blood Drive Partner Award,” along with an award for the Nugget’s banquet sales manager, Vicky Hilling, for the “Outstanding Blood Drive Coordinator Award.”
“She has assisted with the Pahrump Nugget in saving over 5,000 lives during the course of our partnership, which is just incredible,” McLemore said. “We just thought it was a special time, especially during the pandemic, to come out to Pahrump and really acknowledge and recognize the wonderful partnership in our community.”
Cutting the ribbon
As part of the presentation, the Pahrump Chamber of Commerce held a special ribbon-cutting ceremony to commemorate the first Pahrump community blood drive of the new year.
It should also be noted that Vitalant, with several locations in Las Vegas, recently became a member of the chamber.
“The Chamber of Commerce has been wonderful in supporting Vitalant and the Pahrump Nugget today for our very first Pahrump community blood drive of 2021,” McLemore said. “We joined about two months ago, so we are kicking off the year and hoping it will be a much better year in terms of saving lives, so we are celebrating that today.”
For additional information regarding anything related to the process of donating blood, convalescent plasma, or general information, call 877-258-4825, or visit the Vitalant website www.bloodhero.com, and type in your ZIP code for upcoming blood drives throughout the year.
Contact reporter Selwyn Harris at email@example.com. On Twitter: @pvtimes