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Every drop counts

By Staff | Aug 20, 2013

There is still time to save a life – and get a free sandwich from Subway – by donating blood.

Lee Memorial Blood Centers has teamed up with the restaurant for a month-long August promotion, where blood donors will receive a coupon good for a free 6-inch sub, along with a free T-shirt. To get the free meal, donate at any of the four blood center locations or on one of the purple bloodmobiles.

“We’re just trying to get the community to help us out during the summer months,” Nancy Hendrick, spokeswoman for the Lee Memorial Blood Centers, said. “We are very seasonal, as our state is.”

The summer months, May through August, are the slowest months for donations.

“It’s really hard to get participation, to get the amount of blood that we need,” she said.

The Lee Memorial Health System uses an estimated 800-plus units of blood per week. According to Hendrick, the Regional Cancer Center in Fort Myers uses about 350 units per week. With the Golisano Children’s Hospital and the only trauma center in a five-county area, the need for blood is a constant.

“We all know somebody who’s going to need blood within our lifetime,” she said.

Lee Memorial Blood Centers is not licensed to export blood, so all donations remain in the area.

“When you give to us, it stays locally,” Hendrick said.

Only an estimated 5 percent of the total population donates in the United States.

Compared to last summer, the blood centers is about 500 units behind in its collections.

“We did less. We’ve done less,” she said.

Officials are hoping to catch up to last year’s numbers with the August promotion.

“The whole thing is trying to get it out there,” Hendrick said. “Hopefully, people notice it.”

It is the first time Lee Memorial Blood Centers has partnered with Subway to give away coupons.

“The reaction has been very well,” she said, referring to the first two weeks of blood drives.

For example, a drive at the Cape’s City Hall attracted 41 donors, compared to the usual 30 or so.

People interested in donating blood must weigh at least 115 pounds, be at least 16 years old – if underage, a signed parental consent form is required – and be in general good health.

“That’s about it really,” Hendrick said.

Reasons a person may not be able to donate include being ill with a cold, flu or sore throat, or being treated for an illness; having had recent dental surgery, with no infection and off antibiotics; having donated blood or plasma in the last eight weeks; or having a history of hepatitis or positive HIV test.

Taking a medication does not necessarily prohibit a person from donating. People can donate while taking blood pressure and cholesterol medications, as well as aspirin, Tylenol and similar drugs.

People can donate every 56 days; one pint of blood is collected on each visit.

It is recommended that donors hydrate and have a snack beforehand.

The entire process, from paperwork and a mini-physical, to donating, takes about 30 to 35 minutes.

“It takes about 3 to 7 minutes to donate blood,” she said of the procedure alone.

During the mini-physical, the donor’s pulse rate, blood pressure, body temperature and hemoglobin level are checked. Days later, the donors can call to learn their blood type and cholesterol level.

On Friday, Lee Memorial Blood Centers will have a bloodmobile set up at the Breeze Newspapers office, at 2510 Del Prado Blvd., S., from 1 to 4 p.m. The blood drive is open to the public.

On Tuesday, the blood centers will have a bloodmobile stationed outside the Cape Coral Central Post Office, at 1030 S.E. Ninth Ave., from 1 to 6 p.m. Once again, the blood drive is open to the public.

People can always donate at any of the Lee Memorial Blood Centers locations:

– Cape Coral Hospital, 636 Del Prado Blvd. S., (239) 424-2400

– Lee Memorial Hospital, 2776 Cleveland Ave., Fort Myers, (239) 343-2333

– Summerlin Crossings, 15880 Summerlin Road, Suite 113, Fort Myers, (239) 437-5061

– Bonita Community Health Center, 3501 Health Center Blvd., Suite 2011, Bonita Springs, (239) 495-7705

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