Donating blood

Lake Havasu City resident Cindy Smith donates blood Wednesday at the Lake Havasu City Aquatic Center.

Havasu residents and doctors are working together to replenish Mohave County’s blood supply this week, and that blood is desperately needed.

The American Red Cross announced a dangerous blood shortage at hospitals throughout the U.S. last month, with about 50,000 fewer blood donations in June than expected. According to Red Cross statistics, about 36,000 units of red blood cells are needed at hospitals every day throughout the U.S. To meet that need, agencies like Utah-based Vitalant is organizing blood drives throughout Arizona. This Wednesday, the organization began one such blood drive in Lake Havasu City.

On Wednesday, more than 100 Havasu residents made appointments to donate blood at the Lake Havasu City Aquatic Center, in an event offered by Havasu Regional Medical Center Auxiliary volunteers and phlebotomists from Vitalant. According to Vitalant Assistant Donor Care Supervisor Wendy Smith, Havasu residents are often ready and willing to donate.

“We usually have about 40 or 50 walk-ins,” Smith said. “They’re very enthusiastic … we usually get about 250 units of blood during our summer blood drives here.”

Blood donations are used to provide transfusions for surgery and cancer patients, people with chronic illness and victims of traumatic injuries. The supply of blood can’t always meet the demand, according to the Red Cross, because only about 3 percent of eligible people donate blood annually.

“We service hospitals in the area, and the blood we take goes back into those hospitals,” Smith said. “Havasu is a great community, they’re great about giving, and we love coming down here.”

Paul and Cheryl Abrahamson visited the Aquatic Center Wednesday morning to donate their blood. For Paul, it was a way to meet a public need with little cost to himself – according to the Red Cross, a single blood donation can save as many as three lives.

“I’ve been donating since my early 20s,” Paul Abrahamson said. “I was a medic in the Army. I know the need for blood. It costs me a little time, but that’s it.”

Havasu resident Cindy Smith was among the first to donate blood Wednesday morning, and felt little discomfort with doing so.

“I’ve donated blood for over 40 years,” Smith said. “I want to help people, and the doctors are all really great here.”

The Vitalant Blood Drive will continue today, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the Lake Havasu City Aquatic Center. According to the Red Cross, all donations are welcome, but blood types O negative, O positive, A negative and B negative are all in high demand this summer.

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