An abundant and safe blood supply is critical for hospitals to do their
healing work. That is why
Covenant Health makes it convenient for employees to give the gift of life, a donation
of blood, something that cannot be replicated or synthetically simulated.
Karin Whitten, Covenant’s transfusion safety coordinator and blood
drive coordinator, broke down the statistics and other information for
us for National Blood Donor Month.
Covenant offers five blood drives in a calendar year, withCovenant Medical Center’s being two days each, with one-day drives at
Covenant Women’s & Children’s. Each drive sees about 50-60 individuals helping to save lives with their
donations. Donors can give whole blood every eight weeks.
“Offering the blood drives on our campuses makes it easy for them
to give here at work instead of having to make time to go to United Blood
Services at 48th and University,” Whitten said.
Beverly Brooks, regional director of medical records, is a blood drive regular.
“I donate every blood drive,” Brooks said. “It’s
very convenient, one of the many ways to give back to our patients. It
is part of our mission and values at Covenant.”
What happens next?
“All of the blood has to go back to UBS to be processed and tested,”
she continued. “Our average use between CMC, CWC and
Specialty Hospital is about 150 red blood cells per week.
We also average about 30 platelet pheresis per week, but we don’t
collect those at our drives. Those have to be donated at the blood center
– they can always use more of those donors!”
Whitten said there is no guarantee that the blood will come back to Covenant
and not go to one of the other 48 hospitals that UBS supplies in the area,
but statistically we do get most of it back for our patients.
Qualifications for donating
According to Whitten, there are a few new requirements for being a donor.
The basic requirements are here. The most basic constraint is based on
age and weight, which determines a person’s blood volume.
“During the screening process, a mini physical will be performed.
They will check your blood pressure, pulse, temperature and stick your
finger to check your hemoglobin (iron) level,” Whitten said. “You
also will have to answer a series of questions about your health history,
travel history and high-risk behavior history. These have to be answered
for every donation, no matter how many times you have donated. After all
of that and you have met all requirements, then you are ready to donate.
Leonard Gilliard, talent development specialist at Covenant, has been a
consistent donor for five years.
“I donate blood because it’s one way to contribute to the community.
Having blood drives at the hospital is extremely convenient and it doesn’t
take long at all,” he said. “For those who’ve never
donated, just go with a friend or contact UBS to find out how the process
After the donation the next step in the process is testing. The blood center
is required by regulation to test each unit for ABO/Rh, unexpected antibodies,
HIV, Hepatitis C, Hepatitis B, Syphilis, West Nile Virus, HTLV, Chagas
disease, and now they are required to test for Zika virus.
Can I give my donation to a certain person?
Whitten said a donation can be “directed” to a specific person,
but the ordering physician has to fill out a prescription/form for UBS.
Then the recipient/patient has to approve that person as a donor and put
that particular person on their list for directed donations. Those donors
would then have to go to the UBS facility at 48th and University to donate the blood so that all of the paperwork gets done
and the unit gets marked for that patient. UBS also offers what they call
“credit to patient” options for local patients. In this instance,
the patient does not necessarily get that unit but for every five units
given in the patient’s name, UBS will pay for one unit for that patient.
“This helps replenish the blood supply if there is a patient that
uses a lot of blood products during their hospital stay and gives people
a chance to not only help that patient but other patients that might need
a blood transfusion,” Whitten said.
To find out more about becoming a blood donor or to find a blood drive
near you, visit the
United Blood Services website.