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Tri Sigma to host community blood drive

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BLACKDUCK -- On Wednesday, Aug. 21, the local General Federation of Women's Clubs - Tri Sigma of Blackduck will host its 19th annual blood drive at the American Legion Post 372 to contribute blood supplies to Sanford Hospital and local Bemidji blood banks.

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Since its first drive in 1994, Tri Sigma formerly used United Blood Services, a national blood supply company whose regional headquarters is based in Fargo. United's blood is collected locally but then shipped out to other hospitals throughout the nation.

In order to give back to its community, Tri Sigma switched blood suppliers this year to Memorial Blood Centers because much of its blood is used by hospitals and blood banks in the immediate area.

"Memorial Blood Centers is the local community blood supplier in Bemidji," Memorial recruiter Brenda Beard said. "We supply blood to Sanford and Mississippi Headwaters (Blood Bank)."

Memorial Blood Centers is based in St. Paul and has regional donation centers throughout Minnesota that supply blood to more than 30 hospitals within the state and Wisconsin.

"Our main reason (for switching) is that Memorial provides blood to Bemidji," Judy Gorman, drive coordinator and Tri Sigma of Blackduck GFWC member said. "We felt that it was more local."

According to Beard, there are several organizations that collect blood in the greater Bemidji area: Memorial Blood Centers, the Red Cross and United Blood Services. The latter two do not distribute in Bemidji.

"It is my job, as a recruiter, to make sure that we collect what we need to supply our hospital," Beard said, referring to Sanford. She added that she has been encouraging more drives locally because Memorial was "delivering more blood to the hospital than they were collecting in the area."

In order to supply local blood needs, Memorial collects over 2,000 units of blood each week. The blood that is collected at each drive is separated into three parts: Red cells, plasma and platelets. Each unit is projected to save up to three lives.

"Someone needs blood every three seconds and one out of three of us will need blood throughout our lifetime," Beard said.

Tri Sigma's drive will be the first community drive for Memorial in the area. The non-profit has been previously in Blackduck to conduct private blood drives for both Anderson Fabrics and Blackduck High School.

"One of (Tri Sigma's) biggest donors are the employees of Anderson Fabrics," Gorman said. "They let their employees come over during the workday to donate blood."

According to Gorman, the annual drive usually brings in about 100 donors with the majority of that number stemming from Anderson Fabrics, who are allowed first pick in the donation schedule.

"We do accept walk-ins if there is time. But there are a lot of years that our appointments are completely full and we don't really have time for walk-ins," she said. "We don't want to discourage people, so we try to accept walk-ins."

Gorman added that Tri Sigma and Memorial do encourage donors to register ahead of time and have an appointment on the day of the drive for organization and preparation purposes.

Usually for private drives such as the Anderson Fabrics and High School drives, Memorial brings bloodmobiles -- large RV-type vehicles that allow only a few donors aboard at one time. Because these vehicles will not be enough to support the community drive hosted by Tri Sigma, Memorial will be bringing beds and equipment to set up a makeshift blood center at the American Legion. The donated blood will then be transported via volunteer drivers who distribute the units in special coolers to the blood centers.

"I think it's important for people to be educated and to know where their blood is going," Beard said. "It gives them a chance to support their community, their neighbors and their local hospital."

If you give:

• Must be at least 17 years of age or older. (16-year-olds may donate if they have parent or guardian permission.)

• Weigh at least 110 pounds.

• If recovering from a cold or flu within the same week as the drive, must be symptom-free at least three days prior to giving blood.

• Eat a proper meal before donating and drink lots of water.

• Bring identification to register.

• Free your schedule of at least 45 minutes to an hour to donate.

CORRECTION: In the Aug. 16 edition of the Blackduck American Memorial Blood Center recruiter Brenda Beard said that Memorial Blood Centers, based in St. Paul, is the local community blood supplier in Bemidji and that it supplies blood to Sanford and Mississippi Headwaters (Blood Blank).”

Memorial Blood Center does not provide blood to the Mississippi Headwaters Blood Bank.

According to blood bank secretary Peggy Hadrava, Mississippi Headwaters Blood Bank and Memorial Blood Center are the two primary sources of blood for Sanford Bemidji Medical Center.

“They are two separate sources filling the same need: a healthy sufficient supply of blood,” Hadrava said.

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