Blood donors help supply teddy bears to ailing tots

December 13, 1992|By Karin Remesch | Karin Remesch,Contributing Writer

When Sharon Russell donated blood last week at the Red Cross center in Bel Air she gave twice.

She helped stock the blood supply for the chronically short holiday season, and a cuddly, brown teddy bear was sent to a young hospital patient in her name.

The Chesapeake and Potomac region of the American Red Cross will distribute 1,300 stuffed bears in donors' names to children in metropolitan-area hospitals by Christmas, along with

a greeting card signed by people who gave blood.

The bear campaign is an incentive to spur people to donate blood in December, said Dee Behan, supervisor of the Bel Air blood donor center on Emmorton Road.

"We are trying very hard to prevent a critical shortage this year," she said. "Blood supplies are generally low around the holidays, but this year, with Christmas on a Friday, could be critical.

"Not many people will donate blood on Christmas Eve, we are closed on Christmas Day, and only a few donations are expected the day after Christmas," said Mrs. Behan.

"And just when we catch our breath, it's time for the New Year's holiday," a time when demand is high because of the high number of holiday travelers and highway accidents.

Aware of the frequent shortage of blood during the holidays, Mrs. Russell tries to donate each December. But she also gives )) at other times -- her way of repaying a debt.

In 1965, after being injured seriously in an auto accident, Mrs. Russell was the recipient of 44 units of blood. She had to undergo several operations to repair internal injuries and other procedures for treatment of second- and third-degree burns.

Last Wednesday she donated her 31st unit of blood, a pint shy of four gallons. Also giving were regular donors John Glassman and his wife, Sarah. And the Street residents both said "it doesn't hurt a bit."

Blood donors should be at least 17 years old, weigh a minimum of 110 pounds and be in good health, said Mrs. Behan. She added that it's safe to donate every 56 days.

Donated blood is tested for any abnormalities, including human immunodeficiency virus, to ensure that it's safe. If problems are found, the donor will be notified by the Red Cross, said Mrs. Behan.

The process of giving blood takes about an hour, after which donors will feel well enough to resume their usual daily activities. Each donor receives a mini-physical examination -- a temperature reading, blood pressure check and blood-sample screen.

Donors also supply a brief medical history which includes answering questions about medicines they are taking, sexual practices and travel outside the country during the past two years.

When the medical phase is finished and the person is deemed healthy, blood can be drawn. The donor either sits in a reclining chair and lies on a gurney for the eight- to 10-minute process which results in one unit or a pint of blood being taken.

Then it's time for relaxation and refreshments -- usually fresh orange juice or water and cookies or other pastries.

Blood donations are accepted from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at the Bel Air Blood Donor Center, Bright Oaks Courtyard, 2021 Emmorton Road.

Appointments are requested.

Volunteers also are needed to register blood donors, prepare containers and serve refreshments.

For more information on donating call: 764-4619 or (800) 272-0310.

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