By ERIC ANDERSON
The step-down lounge of the Smith Family Living Center will be filled with blood today. BYUSA Community Service and the Cancer Awareness Group are both asking for your blood.
BYUSA Community Service is sponsoring a blood drive, in conjunction with Payson’s Mountain View Hospital, today and Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. This is the third blood drive in two months.
John Freeman, the BYUSA program director responsible for the blood dives, said the reason for having so many blood drives recently is because blood goes bad after about 40 days.
“By having one or two-day blood drives about every two or three weeks instead of three-day blood drives every month or so, the hospital is able to use the blood before it goes bad,” he said.
Freeman said the blood supply in December is traditionally lower than other months.
“There are fewer donors (in December) because everyone is concerned about vacations and Christmas and such,” he said.
This month’s drive will alleviate some of that usual shortage, Freeman said.
These are the requirements for being eligible to donate blood: you must eat a well-balanced meal and drink plenty of fluids before donating; it must have been at least eight weeks since your last blood donation; you must weigh at least 110 pounds; you can’t be pregnant, nursing, or have recently given birth; and there are restrictions if you have certain diseases or are taking certain drugs. The blood drive staff can review these requirements with potential donors, according to a news release.
Freeman said donating blood takes anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes, although “the actual drawing of blood takes about 10 minutes.”
Freeman suggested bringing some homework to do while you wait.
The Cancer Awareness Group, a BYUSA club, is asking for less blood than a pint. They only want two or three small vials.
The CAG isn’t sponsoring a blood drive. The group is sponsoring a bone-marrow drive geared specifically at minorities. They won’t actually be extracting any bone marrow today, said Tom Cimarusti, the vice president of philanthropy for CAG.
The vials of blood will be sent to the National Marrow Donor Program Registry in Minnesota. This bank analyzes the blood to discover the marrow type. An oncologist, a cancer doctor, can call the registry to try and find a marrow type that matches that of his or her patient that needs a marrow transplant. The person with the matching type is then contacted, and asked if he or she will donate the necessary bone marrow.
“Bone marrow is race specific. I am Italian and there is no way I could donate for a Mexican,” Cimarusti said.
Apparently, not many minority types are registered at the Minnesota registry. This is why today’s bone marrow drive is geared toward minorities.
According to the NMDP fact sheet, since its inception, the NMDP has facilitated 5,000 transplants, however, only 590 of those have been for ethnic minorities.
According to the fact sheet, the donor gives five percent of his or her bone marrow from the pelvic bone. The marrow is then given to the patient intravenously and the marrow knows which bone to go to and starts reproducing itself.
Finding a matching bone marrow type for patients that need a marrow transplant is vital, Cimarusti said.
“I had a brother that passed away from Leukemia about a year ago. We were scared that we wouldn’t be able to find a match,” he said. Fortunately, one of Cimarusti’s older brothers’ bone marrow types matched. The transplant was a success, but Cimarusti’s brother had a relapse about six months later and died.
“There were those in the hospital with him that also had Leukemia and didn’t find a match. They died within a couple of months,” Cimarusti said.
Cimarusti and other members of the CAG have been actively recruiting minorities to participate in today’s bone marrow drive. He said about 100 have committed to attend, but they would love more.
“The cost of analyzing blood and finding the bone marrow type is $65 a person,” he said. But finding bone-marrow types among minorities is so important to the registry, that they are paying for all of the lab costs.