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Lee Memorial Bloodmobile at Denny’s today

By Staff | Jul 17, 2013

Donate blood today at the Denny’s on Del Prado Boulevard and get a free Grand Slam breakfast.

Lee Memorial Blood Centers and Denny’s Restaurants have partnered together to help combat local blood shortages this month. The Lee Memorial Bloodmobile will be at 1316 Del Prado Blvd., S., from 9 a.m. to noon today. Donors will receive a free meal, along with a free T-shirt and vital health checks.

“We try new ideas to combat the summer shortages that we have,” Nancy Hendrick, with the Lee Memorial Blood Centers, said. “We are very seasonal here, just like the population is very seasonal.”

The Grand Slam breakfast includes pancakes, bacon, eggs and sausages.

It takes between 3 minutes and 7 minutes to donate one unit of blood, which is what is collected. Overall, the process takes about 30 minutes once the paperwork and vital checks are added in.

“You can donate every 56 days,” she said.

Donors can be as young as 16 with parental consent. They must be at least 115 pounds and in general good health. Taking several medications does not disqualify someone from donating, but people taking antibiotics for a viral infection must be off the antibiotics for at least 24 hours before they can donate.

“You can still take a multitude of medications and still donate,” Hendrick said.

Donors should drink plenty of water beforehand.

“Hydrate yourself,” she said. “You should eat something before you donate.”

The Bloodmobile has refreshments and snacks available, as well.

To donate, people fill out a basic form and answer a few lifestyle questions.

“Just show up, and we’ll help them through the process,” Hendrick said.

Donors will receive a “mini physical” that includes a check of one’s pulse rate, blood pressure, body temperature, hemoglobin or iron level, blood type and cholesterol level.

She noted that about 1,800 people try to donate blood each month, but only about 1,600 are good to do so. Those not eligible could have had too high of blood pressure, too low of iron or something else.

“Just because a donor gets on the bus doesn’t mean they can donate,” Hendrick said.

Plasma, red blood cells and platelets are all collected from one unit of blood.

“You are donating your blood cells, not just the blood,” she said.

The collected blood helps save lives at Cape Coral Hospital, Lee Memorial Hospital, HealthPark Medical Center, Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida and Gulf Coast Medical Center.

“People who donate – it helps their neighbors in Lee County,” Hendrick said. “We are a hospital-based blood center. Everything we draw stays in the system.”

Organizers are hoping to have at least 15 donors at the Denny’s event.

To maintain a constant blood supply, the center needs 800 donors per week.

“We’re always trying to reach that 800 mark every week,” she said. “To draw at least 800 units each week, we really can’t do that without the support of the community.”

According to Hendrick, only about 5 percent of the county’s residents donate blood.

For more information, call (239) 343-2333 or visit: www.leememorial.org/bloodcenter/.

There is a donor center at the Cape hospital for those who prefer to visit a center.

Operating hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, and until 7 p.m. Tuesday.

For information, call (239) 424-2400.

Lee Memorial Blood Centers is always seeking business donor partners.

“We’re always looking for new places to go,” Hendrick said.

The business should have at least 10 people interest in donating blood.

To schedule a Bloodmobile visit, contact (239) 424-2400.