GENEVA – Batavia resident Dan Erickson was sipping orange juice to raise his blood sugar levels recently after donating blood at Heartland Blood Centers in Geneva.
“They want you to drink and eat after a donation,” the 52-year-old said.
Erickson’s donation was welcome. With the number of blood donors down because of the flu outbreak spreading across central and southern Kane County, along with the fact that about 5 percent of the eligible population typically donates blood, Heartland Blood Centers are in need.
“The flu and cold outbreak has definitely affected our blood inventory,” said Jill Moeggenberg, the Heartland Blood Centers spokeswoman. The independent, nonprofit blood center serves 47 hospitals in a 12-county region in Illinois and Indiana, including Delnor Hospital in Geneva and Presence Mercy Medical Center in Aurora.
January is National Blood Donor Month. The need for blood is especially urgent because it is the highest transfusion month of the year. Patients who can delay their nonemergency surgeries and treatments tend to do so until after the holidays, Moeggenberg said.
Individuals can donate blood every 56 days. To be a blood donor, people must be at least 17 years old, or 16 with written parental permission; weigh at least 110 pounds; be symptom-free of cold, flu and allergies; and be in general good health. Women have about 10 pints of blood in their bodies, and men have about 12 pints of blood. Whole blood and apheresis (platelet) donations are about one pint.
All donors who give at Heartland blood centers or mobile locations this month will receive a $10 Target gift card. But Erickson, who has been giving blood since he was in high school, said that’s not why he does it.
“I’m healthy; I can give blood. Why not?” Erickson said. “My mother had surgery and needed blood a number of years ago. I know there is a need for it. A lot of people depend on it.”
He said he usually gives blood six times a year.
Type O blood is especially needed because it is the universal blood type that can be safely transfused into any patient. Moeggenberg said there is a substantial demand for Type O blood because it is used in medical emergencies, such as car crashes, when there is no time to give type-specific blood.
Platelets, a key component in the blood for clotting, also are needed for cancer patients, trauma victims and surgical patients. Geneva resident Randy Duerr, 58, made a platelet donation at the Heartland Blood Centers in Geneva.
“I found out I could give platelets every two weeks,” Duerr said. “Platelets are only good for three to five days, so there is always a constant need for cancer patients.”
He said he felt good about helping.
“This is going to be my way of giving back to the community,” Duerr said. “Someday, I may need it.”
St. Charles resident Kevin True, 56, has been donating his platelets for about eight years.
“They said my platelet level was high,” True said. “The main reason I do it is to help other people.”
For information, visit Heartland’s website, www.heartlandbc.org.